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Harte on hunt for fresh talent ahead of McKenna Cup mission

 

By John Campbell

For the vast majority of GAA participants, this is a week in which they put their feet up and consign sporting interests to the back of their minds.

But Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is an exception to this particular rule.

Far from shelving all thoughts of the welfare of his Red Hands, Harte will today find himself in a prime position to assess his current stock and weigh up fresh talent.

As manager of the TTM All Stars side that will meet Tyrone league champions Errigal Ciaran at Fintona (1.30pm), Harte will find himself confronted by a plethora of players eager to do duty in the county colours in 2018.

He may have finalised his preliminary squad, but the door remains wide open rather than merely ajar to those who significantly impress, not just today but over the course of the Dr McKenna Cup next month.

Tyrone will be bidding to land the trophy for the seventh successive year and Harte is particularly keen to gauge the appetite that players show on the cusp of a new season.

"I think we have shown as a squad in recent years that we like to hit the ground running, and it will be a case of same again this time round," pointed out Harte. "Obviously all teams lose players, and we are no exception, but there is still a lot of talent in the county and I believe that we will see evidence of this over the coming weeks."

For Errigal Ciaran ace Peter Harte, the game will see him confronting his club colleagues.

He will link up with other experienced players such as Ronan O'Neill, Joe McMahon and Conor Meyler, while three players who have just been brought into the Tyrone panel - Brendan Burns, Michael McKenna and Ciaran McLoughlin - will be particularly anxious to catch Mickey Harte's eye.

Errigal Ciaran showed consistency in winning the Tyrone league title and will look to Aidan McCrory, Cathal McRory, Mark Kavanagh and Ben McDonald for inspiration.

The TTM All Stars concept was launched five years ago and since then in excess of £20,000 has been raised and donated to various charities.

Today's game will see the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Head Injury Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital become the latest beneficiaries.

Kevin Kelly, a spokesman for the organisers, explained: "The match provides an early opportunity for fans to see top players in action and in the process support very worthy causes. We are particularly indebted to O'Neill's International Sportswear, who have provided the All Stars team with a new kit, with each player permitted to keep his own rig."

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