McGrath hopes students can bail out Fermanagh
Fermanagh manager Peter McGrath is hoping to have his university players on board for the Dr McKenna Cup competition - and with good reason.
Sharpshooter Sean Quigley and another key forward Ruairi Corrigan are both currently recovering from injury, experienced defenders Niall Cassidy and Martin O'Brien have retired, goalkeeper Chris Snow is understood to be contemplating his future and both Richard O'Callaghan and Conall Jones have left on global travels, meaning that McGrath is stripped of a raft of experience for the early-season tournament.
Quite simply, McGrath feels he cannot do without student players like Eoin Donnelly, James McMahon, Thomas Clarke and Ciaran Corrigan among others as he ponders his potential resources in advance of his team's opening game against Monaghan at Clones on Sunday week.
Squad lists from the various counties have been submitted to the Ulster Council for ratification and in some cases final decisions on the availability of student players are awaited.
When McGrath guided Ulster to their 32nd success in the Inter-provincial Football Championship earlier this month, several Fermanagh players participated.
Now McGrath is anxious to harness as much experience as he can for the McKenna Cup in which his side must also face Antrim and St Mary's University College.
"We will await developments in terms of player availability but obviously it would be beneficial if we could have our student players on board," pointed out McGrath.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, though, is resigned to being without several players including Conor Meyler, who will turn out for St Mary's University College. Omagh clubman Meyler played in this month's two O'Fiaich Cup matches against Louth and Armagh.
Derry boss Damian Barton will be without Niall Toner, Niall Keenan, Michael McEvoy and Callum Mullan-Young, who will be playing for their universities, but nevertheless he has named a squad that is a mixture of youth and experience.
Tyrone squad: N Morgan, M O'Neill, A McCrory, L Brennan, C Clarke, T McCann, P Harte, R O'Neill, N Sludden, P McNulty, P Hampsey, D McCurry, S Cavanagh, H Loughran, J Munroe, C McAliskey, M Donnelly, C Cavanagh, C McCarron, M Cassidy, D McClure, C McCullagh, R McHugh, N McKenna, R McNabb, R Mullan.
Derry squad: T Mallon, B McKinless, P Coney, P Hagan, C McLarnon, C Mullan, R Bell, C Nevin, A McLaughlin, D Heavron, B Heron, E McGuckin, G O'Neill, M Lynch, O Duffy, M Craig, J Doherty, M Warnock, C McWilliams, P Kearney, J Kielt, E Lynn, N Forrester, J Rocks, D Tallon, N Loughlin.