Harte will strike out for high five
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has his sights set on making it five Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup triumphs on the trot - and he doesn't intend to allow the threatened Gaelic Players Association strike to jeopardise his ambition.
Harte, who has already steered the Red Hands to two All-Ireland successes, is optimistic that his side can hit the ground running when the competition gets under way in early January.
"We will be approaching this competition in the way we always do - with every intention of winning it. We plan to field our best available team on any given day," declared Harte.
When the competition was formally launched at the Armagh City hotel last night, Tyrone were drawn in Group B along with Down, Donegal and UUJ - a tough group which Harte feels will offer his side an early test.
Two of Ulster's new county managers, Peter McDonnell (Armagh) and Malachy O'Rourke (Fermanagh) will go head to head in Group A where they will also be joined by Derry and St Mary's College.
McDonnell, who has taken over from Joe Kernan, is prepared for what he feels will be a demanding start to 2008.
"We would be hoping that those players who have served Armagh well in the past will continue to do so and that the competition will perhaps help us to discover some new faces," said McDonnell.
Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney, who took his side to the All-Ireland quarter-finals in August, will pit his Farney outfit against Antrim, Cavan and Queen's in Group C.
But while McEnaney can lean on the bulk of the players who projected Monaghan into the limelight this year, Cavan boss Donal Keogan is hoping to unearth some fresh talent.
"Obviously there is fierce rivalry between ourselves and Monaghan - any day you can beat them is a good day," smiled Keogan.
The Ulster Council Competitions Control Committee will meet tonight to arrange dates, venues and times for all the group games. The competition will commence on Sunday January 6.
Gaelic Life Doctor McKenna Cup:
Group A: St Mary's University College, Fermanagh, Armagh, Derry.
Group B: UUJ, Tyrone, Down, Donegal.
Group C: Queens, Antrim, Cavan, Monaghan.
Semi finals: Group B winners v. Group C winners; Group A winners v. Best runners up.