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Time is right for newcomers to make their mark: Harte

By John Campbell

Tyrone may have already surrendered the first of the four trophies which they won this year but Peter Harte, now very much a pivotal player in the Red Hands' set-up, does not necessarily see this as a setback.

Indeed Harte, a teacher at St Patrick's GS, Armagh, believes that the team can still derive benefits from their O'Fiaich Cup final defeat to neighbours Armagh.

"I think that the match will stand both teams in good stead for the McKenna Cup," states Errigal Ciaran clubman Harte,

"It may be very early days but it was still a feisty encounter although what else would you expect when Tyrone and Armagh meet?

"No matter what time of the year these sides meet it's always going to be a physical battle. Both teams would, I think, have been happy coming out of the game just knowing that they had got a good 70-minute contest under their belts and obviously the focus now is on the McKenna Cup and league."

Manager Mickey Harte's decision to blood several players in this month's competition has now opened the McKenna Cup door to them with Michael Cassidy, Declan McClure, Harry Loughran, Ruairi Mullan and Ronan McHugh among the exciting newcomers who will come under much closer scrutiny when the Red Hands confront Cavan, Donegal and UUJ over the coming weeks.

Donegal have actually confirmed their U21 squad for the competition but Tyrone boss Harte will adopt a wait and see approach on the selection front in the build-up to his team's meeting with the north-west side on Wednesday, January 18.

"The McKenna Cup is a testing ground for us because if we don't come up to the mark, then Division One in the league will really find us out," maintains Peter Harte.

"This is the time for players to seize their chance because they might not get it later on in the year."

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