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Red Hands have plenty of positives to draw on

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte whisked his squad away for a pre-championship weekend intent on focusing on the positives that accompany the intensive build-up to Sunday's mouth-watering provincial opener against Down.

With Kyle Coney having recovered from the knee injury he sustained against Dublin, Ronan O'Neill currently the top scorer in the All County League, Sean Cavanagh clearly fired up at the prospect of skippering the side for the first time in the Ulster Championship and Stephen O'Neill ready for a cameo role, Harte is certainly not short on plus-factors.

Throw in the fact, too, that the 'house full' sign is ready for erection at Healy Park and it becomes clear just why buoyancy is palpable within the Red Hands camp.

Harte has quickly come to terms with the loss of Joe McMahon and Ronan McNamee and while still exercising patience in relation to Colm Cavanagh's fitness, plan B has already been drawn up if necessary.

The manager's upbeat approach clearly emanates from what he feels is the approach and demeanour of his players – and his younger troops in particular.

"They are confident in what they do and they produce good performances on a regular basis. I think it is encouraging to have young men like these who believe in themselves. They have every reason for optimism because the proof is there," assert Harte.

His opposite number James McCartan is understood to be mulling over "a couple of positions" before finalising his side but is particularly happy with training.

"The challenge now is to get the balance right for Sunday. We certainly don't want to be conceding scores but at the same time we can't lie back and allow Tyrone to come at us. We need a balanced strategy," declares McCartan.

* Armagh ladies made up for the hurt of losing last year's Division Three final when going one better against Waterford in this season's promotion decider, winning 1-14 to 1-5.

Belfast Telegraph


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