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Tyrone forward Coney ready for a testing year but has high hopes for county under revised schedule

Fusion of youth and experience will serve Red Hands well, says forward


On the ball: Kyle Coney is hoping to play a part in bringing back the good times for Tyrone

On the ball: Kyle Coney is hoping to play a part in bringing back the good times for Tyrone

�INPHO/Tommy Dickson

On the ball: Kyle Coney is hoping to play a part in bringing back the good times for Tyrone

Kyle Coney, one of Tyrone's top forwards, is adamant that 2021 could prove a seminal year for the county.

With the new management team of Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher already in place, the daunting test of confronting Monaghan, Donegal and Armagh in Division One North of the restructured Allianz League and the considerable challenge of becoming a viable force in the All-Ireland Championship once again, it promises to be a particularly demanding year on all fronts for the Red Hands.

Yet Coney, whose career has been blighted by injury lately, believes a positive mind-set and total commitment can serve the squad well in what he describes as "a demanding journey".

"I think it's essential for Tyrone to hit the ground running," insists Coney.

"The new format which is being introduced for the league means that any team with aspirations of making real progress cannot afford to lose a game.

"I think that our new management of Feargal and Brian have been getting down to conducting trials in a very dedicated manner.

"Any player who can make it into the squad will have earned that honour and certainly no one is taking anything for granted."

"No matter how you look at it, 2021 is going to be a demanding journey."

The new management had indicated when they were appointed that they would be keen to organise challenge matches as a build-up to the league but with all games off the radar until the weekend of February 6/7 and the league due to begin on the weekend of Feb 27/28, it does not offer much scope for such fixtures.

Having made his debut for Tyrone a decade ago, Coney has watched a raft of new talent come on board and believes that a fusion of youth and experience could serve Tyrone well going forward.

"While I might have had a difference of opinion with Mickey Harte, I am fully behind Tyrone and naturally it would be great to be part of the action," states Coney.

"I think the way in which the Ulster Championship was staged without a hitch and the manner in which a series of managerial appointments have been confirmed within a very short of space of time shows what the GAA can achieve when it puts its mind to it." But while Coney is hopeful that he will be given the opportunity to unleash his scoring skills in the county colours again, long-serving defender Aidan McCrory has stepped down from top-flight football.

The 33-year-old Errigal Ciaran clubman has spent eight years as an integral member of the Tyrone side, his defensive skills and composure serving the team well.

"For me it was a great journey in the Red Hand jersey. While we maybe didn't attain all of the goals we set ourselves along the way nevertheless it was extremely satisfying," says McCrory.

He is now determined to focus even more strongly on the efforts Errigal Ciaran will make to wrest back the Tyrone title they last won in 2012.

McCrory is viewed as a father figure in a team that includes Peter Harte, Ben McDonnell, Niall Kelly and Darragh Canavan all of whom have represented Tyrone this year and are expected to be in the 2021 squad.

For the moment, though, McRory, a software engineer with Global Automation, has one big date in his diary and that's the celebration along with wife Grace of their first wedding anniversary in February.

Belfast Telegraph