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Tyrone boss Harte has big calls to make

By John Campbell

When any team exits the All-Ireland championship series this automatically means the disbandment of the playing panel.

Not until January of the following year does it become in any way clear just who may be summoned by managers to serve their counties.

Even then the squad is viewed as being of a preliminary nature because several players from virtually every county are generally involved with their colleges and universities in the early-season competitions such as the McKenna Cup (Ulster), O’Byrne Cup (Leinster), McGrath Cup (Munster) and FBD League (Connacht).

In these circumstances, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte will have plenty of time to consider the make-up of his new squad as he focuses on the future following his team’s shattering defeat by Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-final at the weekend.

While Harte will await decisions from a number of his more established personnel as to whether they would like to make themselves available again for selection next year, he is more likely to find himself ultimately engaging in head-to-head meetings to determine the strength or otherwise of his playing resources for 2011.

Sean Cavanagh has spent nine years in the trenches with the Red Hands and although it would be something of a surprise if he himself were to call time on his career, he has admitted that major surgery to the side is inevitable.

“I know for a fact that some of the lads had indicated that this would be their last year. I think this has been known anyway,” said Cavanagh who has been a magnificent ambassador on all fronts for the Red Hands.

Understandably perhaps, the overall tone of the reaction to Tyrone’s defeat by the Dubs has been spliced with distinct negativity.

Yet, irrespective of how the side performed, what manager would not relish having players of the calibre of Pascal McConnell, Martin Swift, the McMahon brothers Justin and Joe, Dermot Carlin, Damian McCaul, Sean O’Neill, Sean Cavanagh, Colm Cavanagh, Davy Harte, Aidan Cassidy, Niall McKenna, Peter Harte, Tommy McGuigan, Martin Penrose, Mark Donnelly, Owen Mulligan, and Kyle Coney on his books?

Certainly, Ryan McMenamin, Conor Gormley, Philip Jordan, Kevin Hughes, Brian McGuigan, Brian Dooher, Stephen O’Neill and John Devine may have reasons to ponder their futures having already given sterling service to their county over many years.

Harte is prepared to be patient and while he is aware that the composition of the Tyrone side is now certain to change, this is by no means an unexpected development.

Half of the Red Hands outfield defenders who lined out against Dublin on Saturday did not play in the opening Ulster championship match against Monaghan while one-third of the attack from that Omagh contest did not start against Pat Gilroy’s marauding outfit.

This provides telling evidence that the transition period has been very much in progress and it is certain that Harte will now conduct an in-depth trawl of talent over the course of the Tyrone club championship in his ongoing quest for fresh talent.

Belfast Telegraph

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