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Tyrone manager Mickey Harte makes 10 changes for decider

By Declan Bogue

Even a six-point haul last Sunday in their semi-final win over Derry in the Dr McKenna Cup was not enough to guarantee Darren McCurry a place in the starting line-up for the final against Cavan tomorrow (Brewster Park, throw-in 7.30pm).

Paddy McNiece comes in at right-corner-forward, Mattie Donnelly continues in his new home at full-forward and Ronan O'Neill gets another chance to shine.

Much will be anticipated with Shay McGuigan at centre-forward, himself and Peter Hughes having shared the responsibility of being the team's playmaker, while the free-scoring PJ Lavery is handed another start by manager Mickey Harte.

This January has shown just how wide Harte is prepared to cast the net in search of talent. From the team that beat Armagh by 24 points, he made nine changes for the game against Derry. Now he makes 10 changes for the final against Cavan.

And this is Harte's 10th McKenna Cup final – an astonishing statistic that almost took him by surprise after the semi-final.

"We don't play challenge matches, it's well-documented now and this is our only place to play games," he said. "To play in these games and not take them seriously is not doing anybody any good. So yes, we like to be in, we like to stay in the competition as long as possible, we would love to have five games before we hit the National League and lots of years we have managed to do that."

Harte also defended his attitude towards University teams coveting any Tyrone players, explaining: "We don't have any other time to prepare. This is our preparation for the National League. If we don't get our players together ahead of the league then we go into the league very cold, lose two or four league points and you are fighting relegation. We want to build our players and want to keep our players together."

Meanwhile, Mattie Donnelly warned that the Ulster under-21 final defeats in 2011 and 2012 should prove sufficient motivation for a host of young Tyrone players to get the Cavan monkey off their backs.

"It's definitely something that would have hurt a lot of players from those two finals. It's not something we want to be doing again, to be losing to Cavan."

TYRONE (v Cavan): N Morgan; A McCrory, C Clarke, B Tierney; C McGinley, P Harte, T McCann; N McKenna, D McBride; P Kane, S McGuigan, PJ Lavery; P McNiece, M Donnelly, R O'Neill

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