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Harte keeps his options open as Red Hands eye more Cup glory

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is not one to leave things to chance.

The player eligibility rules which govern the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup competition decree that university teams can have first call on players who are normally members of county squads.

Thus when the defending champions face Louth in the second of the O'Fiaich Cup semi-finals at Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen tomorrow, Harte will run the rule over those members of his squad who have already committed themselves to their universities for January.

The triple All-Ireland-winning manager is unlikely to lose any sleep over the availability of players at this juncture but he still makes it clear that he sees the O'Fiaich Cup as fulfilling a very useful function in terms of his team-building operation for 2017.

"The O'Fiaich Cup gives us the opportunity to see players who would have ties to their colleges for the McKenna Cup and if we manage to beat Louth it would give us another game in the final against Armagh next Sunday which would be a further help," explained Harte.

Such is the depth of talent within the Red Hands squad that Harte's side is unlikely to be unduly weakened even though Peter Harte, Tiarnan McCann and Mattie Donnelly among others are expected to be on duty with Ulster at Parnell Park.

As things stand, Cathal McShane and Conal McCann along with Conor Meyler will assist St Mary's in the McKenna Cup while Rory Brennan and Mark Bradley will line out with UUJ.

Meanwhile, Mattie Lennon is set to be re-appointed as Tyrone hurling manager. The Derrynoose man held the reins in 2014 and 2015 before taking a sabbatical this year.

In the Ulster Minor Club tournament tomorrow, Carrickmore can take a step into the semi-finals by beating Corduff while Kilrea will meet Donegal side Naomh Conaill.

Belfast Telegraph

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