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Harte has big plans for Tyrone starlets

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte believes that the additional pressures which knockout matches present can help nurture the careers of younger players much more quickly.

Harte, having already bolstered his squad with a generous ration of starlets, has already thrown down the gauntlet to his newcomers even before the new season has engaged first gear.

"I believe that competitions in which there are no backdoors ask big questions of players," declared Harte. "This was the case in the All-Ireland Under-21 Championship this year in which our team had to go out and win every game. But this does wonders for players' confidence.

"Some of those players have come into our senior team with a lot of self-belief and that's a good thing. In winning against Derry on Sunday, some of the debutants in our side had the chance to show what they can do and gain a little confidence at this higher level.

"Now that we have another game in the final next weekend against either Louth or Armagh this will represent another opportunity for these players to get a little more experience.

"You need to be making it at this level if you want to give yourself a chance of doing well in the McKenna Cup and then in the league when the standard will be higher and of course in the Championship."

Harte's assessment of his current resources coincides with a sharp broadside from Ardboe clubman Shay McGuigan, who left the squad following the last league game this year along with three other players because of a perceived lack of game time.

McGuigan's comments merely serve to underline what is in essence every manager's biggest task - trying to keep a 30-plus squad happy.

McGuigan took to social media to state: "I hung on and hung on fully fit and injury-free all year. I did all the pre-season training from November through the cold winter nights. When I didn't get on I never sat with a face on me nor did I huff and any Tyrone player could tell you that."

Harte, though, reiterates the challenge that players must face up to in their bid to become regulars at inter-county level.

"When a team can win a title at All-Ireland level it stirs other players to say to themselves that that is a good place to be in and maybe I was close to that and if I had dedicated myself to my whole game I could have been in that place as well," stated Harte.

"There are people in there who were not part of a successful team but they are still performing very well so that is all good."

Belfast Telegraph


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