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McKenna at the centre of Harte’s future plans

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is hoping to boost his midfield resources ahead of a potentially difficult campaign in Division One of the National Football League.

With Collie Holmes recently confirming his retirement and Aidan Cassidy having been troubled by injury last year, Harte will avail of the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup to scrutinise his central area options.

Niall McKenna, son of former Tyrone joint manager Eugene McKenna, could well make an impact and provide Harte with a ration of encouragement.

The Donaghmore club midfielder looks capable of enhancing his credentials this month starting against St Mary’s University College on Sunday.

McKenna, whose father formerly managed Tyrone in tandem with Art McRory in the pre-Harte era and also rendered outstanding service as a player, has already impressed at under-age level.

Enda McGinley and Kevin Hughes formed the Tyrone centre-field partnership last year, Sean Cavanagh was largely deployed in attack and Harte is understandably anxious to unearth back-up.

McKenna is one of a platoon of young players who will get their chance to impress in the McKenna Cup. Kyle Coney, Ronan McNabb and Peter Harte are others tipped to further their claims for regular recognition in the side.

“The door is open for anyone to come through. It is very important to have a strong squad and we are seeking to have cover for all sectors of the team. The McKenna Cup should help to give us an insight into our playing resources,” points out the Tyrone boss.

Sunday’s scheduled game against St Mary’s at Healy Park, Omagh (2pm) will see him come up against Paddy Tally, the man who trained Tyrone when they won their first All Ireland title under Harte in 2003.

Tally, a renowned fitness expert, has helped to nurture a rich seam of talent in his role as St Mary’s coach and is currently the Down trainer.

Down open their campaign against Queen’s University at Pairc Esler on Saturday night (7pm) which will allow Tally to see both sides in action this weekend.

Belfast Telegraph


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