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McKernan keen to play his part in capture of major honours

 

By John Campbell

This time last year Michael McKernan was taking his first faltering steps with Tyrone in the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup, a largely unknown player plucked from obscurity.

Today the versatile McKernan has an All-Ireland senior final appearance under his belt, already figured in the running for the Under-20 Player of the Year and has blossomed into one of the Red Hand county's finest club players.

Although currently playing with University of Ulster in the McKenna Cup, McKernan will link up with the Red Hands again now that the students have completed their involvement in the competition while still keeping his focus on potential Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup success.

UUJ will play IT Tralee in their opening Sigerson tie shortly but McKernan is hoping that in the meantime Tyrone can make progress in the Allianz League, in which they open their campaign with a trip to Kerry on January 27.

And he is quick to acknowledge that reclaiming his place in Mickey Harte's line-up will not be a straightforward exercise.

"This time last year I did not know what was in front of me," concedes McKernan. "I had just been called into the Tyrone squad and I thought that I would be happy enough with just getting a few McKenna Cup matches under my belt.

"As the season moved on, I got hungrier for playing in Tyrone's colours. I didn't want to be on the bench because I knew competition for places was hot but I managed to bed down in the side."

McKernan's consistency had much to do with Tyrone's progress through the qualifiers last year following their Ulster championship dismissal at the hands of Monaghan. And he was somewhat taken by surprise when the team came face to face with Dublin in the All-Ireland final.

"There were only a couple of players, I think, within the Tyrone squad that had played in an All-Ireland final so it was a great experience for us all but it's something we have to try and build on this year," insists McKernan.

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