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Tyrone's Harte pours cold water on Donegal's Cup plan

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte will adopt a wait and see attitude in relation to Donegal's expressed intention to play their Under 21 team in next month's Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup competition.

The north west county plan to give their platoon of youthful starlets an opportunity to prove themselves as candidates for regular recognition at senior level but Harte treats this concept with a sizeable pinch of salt.

"You never know what is going to happen. The list of players that goes into the Ulster Council for the McKenna Cup can be changed every day so I would expect that maybe when we meet Donegal in the competition there will be a few more seasoned faces in their side than is on their squad list at the moment," insists Harte.

"I think it will be a tougher proposition when we meet them so I wouldn't just take it for granted that it's going to be Donegal's Under 21 side which is going to come along. I accept that they may have furnished their initial panel but I believe they will make a number of changes to this for certain games."

Harte has already made it clear that he is keen to see his side retain the O'Fiaich and McKenna Cups but acknowledges that they have been drawn in a particularly stiff section of the latter competition.

"I think that this is as tough as it can get for us," he states. "I hope the people that are in our group think that it is going to be tough for them too."

Harte is resigned to being without players such as Conal McCann, Kieran McGeeney, Frank Burns, Rory Brennan, Mark Bradley and Cathal McShane for the month of January.

But having introduced four debutants against Louth in last weekend's O'Fiaich Cup semi-final and still remaining optimistic that some of the players who will be on duty with Ulster on Saturday might link up with his squad for the final against Armagh on Sunday, Harte takes a defiant stand as he ponders his team's immediate itinerary.

"We will have a second match in the O'Fiaich Cup on Sunday and it is our aim to try and get five matches in the McKenna Cup which would give us seven in all before the end of January and that would be good in terms of our preparations for Division One of the league," asserts Harte.

"That's the theory anyway but we will see how things go as we move along."

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