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Tyrone boss Munroe steps up to new challenge

By John Campbell

Raymond Munroe, the man who masterminded Tyrone’s All-Ireland Minor football championship title triumph earlier this year, is already focussed on more silverware in 2011 — but in a different arena.

Munroe, in tandem with Cathal McEnenly ,will take charge of the Tyrone Under -21 side and he will be bidding to enhance an already glowing track record in management.

Even his significant achievement this year was dwarfed by the accomplishments of his 2008 team which won the Ulster and All-Ireland Minor Championship titles as well as the Ulster Minor league crown.

And as he contemplates what he sees as a “very stiff challenge” in the New Year, Munroe can take comfort from the fact that a number of his Under -21 players have already acquired considerable experience at senior level having initially been blooded by Mickey Harte.

Kyle Coney, Ronan McNabb, Matthew Donnelly, Gavin Teague, Niall McKenna and Kieran Gervin will form the backbone of a Tyrone side that has already been installed as favourites for the provincial Under-21 title.

Munroe, who gave outstanding service to Tyrone at senior level as a player, is taking nothing for granted, though.

“There is much greater emphasis on the Under-21 championship now and there are many counties like ourselves who can call upon players who have senior experience,” said Munroe.

“This is what helps to give the competition added status and we are well aware that we will be facing some very good teams along the way.”

It was in 2006 that he and McEnenly, the former chairman of Errigal Ciaran, took over as the Tyrone Minor management. Since then they have plotted three Ulster titles and two All-Ireland title successes and in the process helped to spawn a conveyor belt of talented players.

While senior boss Harte has included just two newcomers in his preliminary panel, Aidan McCrory and Stephen McNally, he has left the door open for other players to stake their claim for recognition.

And although Munroe would naturally be unwilling to lose players from his Under-21 side, nevertheless he feels that a number of them have the skill and attitude to succeed at the highest level.

“We are grateful to have these guys with senior experience in there at the minute,” admits Munroe.

“Some of them may only have played a little at senior level, but they have been given a flavour of it.

“We want to start off on the right foot in 2011 and hopefully we will be able to bring more success to Tyrone.”

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