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Tyrone hit the road to avoid a tactics leak ahead of Donegal clash

By Declan Bogue

Published 28/04/2015

Unavailable: PJ O’Connell has left the Antrim hurling panel
Unavailable: PJ O’Connell has left the Antrim hurling panel

Ahead of their Ulster Championship preliminary round clash against Donegal, Tyrone have embarked on a tour of the county's training facilities in order to keep their preparations top secret.

It's understood there was a double-booking at their Garvaghey training complex with a Donegal club who use it as a midway camp to facilitate their Dublin-based players, and as a result, the Tyrone team trained at a different venue last Tuesday.

On Thursday night, they went to another location in Omagh.

The notion of teams trying to gain information on one another in the lead-up to big games used to be unheard of, but in the last five years it has become increasingly important, although some managers would never embrace the idea.

Such high-jinks reached a low point last year when a Kerry-based musician, with strong links to Donegal, was found to be spying on a Kingdom training session at Fitzgerald Stadium ahead of the All-Ireland final.

Traditionally, Kerry always trained with the gates open. When Eamonn Fitzmaurice took over as manager, he began to close the sessions with the move proving unpopular.

Meanwhile, Antrim hurler PJ O'Connell has addressed his reasons for leaving the county hurling panel ahead of their opening match in the Leinster hurling Championship against Laois at Ballycastle on Sunday.

Ahoghill man O'Connell confirmed yesterday: "I have left because of work commitments. I could not commit to the training schedule at this time of the year and we have a lot of work on."

The self-employed joiner added: "I don't want anyone thinking it was anything else. By no means is Kevin Ryan a bad manager, he has just had bad luck."

O'Connell has also been joined in exile by fellow Saffrons Barry McFall and Jackson McGreevey.

Also, former Down under-21 and Queen's footballer Michael Monan has been awarded the 2015 Cormac McAnallen Medal.

The Darragh Cross clubman was honoured at a recent ceremony by the late Cormac's brother, Dónal.

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