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Young guns are set to make big impact for Red Hands

By John Campbell

When he sits down tonight to finalise his side to meet Sligo in Saturday's All-Ireland Round 4B qualifier at Croke Park, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is certain to assess the impact that his tranche of U21 players can make as his team maintain their quest for a place in the last eight of the All-Ireland series.

There are many who thought that Harte was taking a bold gamble when he plunged the young guns into his senior panel but already his decision has paid dividends.

When Tyrone overcame Tipperary in their most recent qualifier outing, Conor Meyler, Rory Brennan, Mark Bradley and Cathal McShane from the All-Ireland U 21 winning squad played a big part in bringing the team into the clash with Sligo.

In addition, Harte was able to introduce Conor Clarke, Padraig McNulty and Ronan O'Neill from the bench thus undermining the belief that he lacks strength in depth.

Clarke had been out for some time until coming back to full fitness lately while O'Neill has been unable to nail down a regular place of late even though he is a particularly talented player and McNulty, who made an initial impact when introduced at midfield at the start of the year, is still striving to become a regular in the side.

Harte believes that his younger players can come to the fore in what will be a running game against Sligo, the feeling being that Niall Carew's side may be suffering from the after-effects of that shattering 6-15 to 2-11 defeat to Mayo in the Connacht final although Harte maintains that "Sligo have not become a bad team within the space of a week."

"When you look at David Kelly, Pat Hughes and Adrian Marren you are talking about quality players who would create problems for any team," points out the Tyrone boss, "It's important that we keep our focus and make sure that we eliminate errors."

Belfast Telegraph


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