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Tyrone boss Mickey Harte set to give youth a chance

By Declan Bogue

Mickey Harte has warned against the dangers of carrying disaffected players on his panel, given how they can become a "drain on the energy" of the group.

As the Red Hands manager gears up for his 14th season in charge, he gets it off to an early start this Sunday with the O'Fiaich Cup semi-final against Derry. The game throws-in at 1.30pm at Crossmaglen.

This winter, new faces have joined the extended training panel. The All-Ireland under-21 captain Kieran McGeary, his brother Hugh Pat and Pádraig Hampsey all come in as potential defenders.

Harry Óg Conlon and Niall Sludden arrive from the 2010 minor side, while Jonathan Munroe and David Mulgrew bring the total to seven.

Harte believes that it is important that the panel is constantly refreshed, while those on it have to display patience while trying to make their mark.

"It says something about the people who stay and bide their time and have the patience to fight and work, where they find themselves. They are the people who are in the best place for their development anyway," Harte said.

"The people who feel they are not getting much gametime, tend to be a bit of a drain on the energy of the group, because they feel they should be getting more time.

"If that is not there, and the people who are there have the patience to bide their time and grab the chance that will come their way, then that is a better place to be. Maybe that's the place we find ourselves now."

In the meantime, he has convinced the players that might have been wavering, to stay on at least for the 2016 season, including veteran Sean Cavanagh and full-back Ronan McNamee who has shelved his plans to go to Australia and has instead begun a course at University of Ulster.

Two men who weren't prepared or able to remain on are Strabane's Danny McBride and Peter Hughes of Eskra.

Harte explained: "Danny McBride has decided to leave. He does so on friendly terms and he wants to commit totally to his club. That's fair enough. He knew it was a big challenge to nail down a place on the team and he has made that judgement call.

"Peter Hughes has started a new job in Derry, and he is a very honest lad, he gives it everything he has got, and he said he would not be able to give it the commitment that it requires. Those two lads had to go for a variety of reasons."

He has challenged the new recruits to lift the energy of the group and raise the standards of a side that unexpectedly reached the All-Ireland semi-final in August, losing narrowly to Kerry.

"They are there and they will see if they are capable of staying on at this level," said the Errigal Ciaran clubman.

He continued: "The boys who have come in are up for the challenge. They are young fellas and they are really taking the chance just now. They know what they need to do."

Tyrone are actually chasing a fifth Dr McKenna Cup in a row, but before that appears on the January horizon there is the resurrected O'Fiaich Cup to play for, something that Harte welcomes given his long-standing aversion to playing challenge games against other county teams.

"It's good to have some more games, some competitive games," he commented.

"We wouldn't be playing games otherwise because we don't play challenge matches.

"It's actually great in that we have the potential to have seven games played before the league starts.

"It's great preparation for the league and an opportunity to try other players, to give other people more gametime than you would have been able to do otherwise through more games," he added.

Belfast Telegraph


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