Tyrone play near neighbours Derry in the opening round of the Power NI Dr Mc Kenna cup on Sunday at 2pm in Healy Park, Omagh.
This match is a stern test for Mickey Harte as he seeks to rebuild following the recent retirements of Ryan McMenamin and Brian McGuigan. This is new Derry manager Brian McIver’s first game in charge since taking over the reins from John Brennan.
Tyrone had a mixed season by their own high standards. They secured promotion back to division one of the league before losing the league two final to Kildare. In the Ulster championship, the Red Hands defeated rivals Armagh in the opening round of the championship before losing the semi final by two points to eventual All Ireland winners Donegal. Tyrone then defeated Roscommon in the qualifiers before being beaten comprehensively by Kerry in Killarney.
Derry had a poor season by their own standards, failing to win promotion to division one of the league. The Oak Leaf County were then dismantled by Donegal in the quarter final of the Ulster championship on a score line of 2-13 to 0-9. In the qualifiers Derry were then defeated by Longford.
Mickey Harte is unable to call upon the services of Colm Cavanagh due to a fractured wrist while Sean Cavanagh starts after long term injury. Ronan O’Neill is not expected to be fit until March. Half forward Ronan Mc Nabb is expected to miss the entire Dr Mc Kenna cup after having surgery on a hip complaint.
Tyrone team to play Derry: Niall Morgan Dermot Carlin, Conor Gormley, Barry Tierney, Ryan McKenna, Joe McMahon, Danny McBride, Conor Clarke, Sean Cavanagh, Kevin Gallagher, Mark Donnelly, Matthew Donnelly, Martin Penrose, Stephen O’Neill, Johnathan Lafferty
SUBS: Pascal McConnell,Peter Harte, Plunkett Kane, Conor McAlliskey, Tiarnan McCann, Cathal McCarron, Darren McCurry, Dean McNally, Ronan McNamee, Patrick McNiece, Sean Warnock
Brian McIver has announced a youthful squad, which he will take to Tyrone for their season opener. Conleth Gilligan has retired and Paddy Bradley is recovering from a cruciate knee injury
Derry team to play Tyrone: Eoin McNicholl; Dermot McBride(capt), Ciaran Mullan, Ryan Ferris; Sean Leo McGoldrick, Mark Lynch, Charlie Kielt; PJ McCloskey, Patsy Bradley; Ryan Bell, Raymond Wilkinson, Barry McGoldrick; James Kielt, Lee Kennedy, Eoin Bradley.
SUBS: Thomas Mallon, Micheál Anderson, Philip Bradley, Aidan McAlynn, Brian McCallion, Declan Brown, Blaine Gormley, Daniel Heavron, Declan Mullan, Coilin Devlin, Enda Lynn.
Players to watch
Tyrone: Sean Cavanagh
Cavanagh is a four-time All Star-winning player who starts his first game for many months, if Tyrone are going to win an Ulster title this year his fitness will be crucial.
Derry: Mark Lynch
A powerful and explosive carrier of the ball, on his day Lynch is of the most potent forwards in Ulster. Brian Mc Iver will be expecting big things of Lynch this season.
Considering Tyrone have named a more experienced squad they should be added to any accumulator bets for this weekends GAA. Betting with Boylesports 4/11 Tyrone 15/2 Draw 5/2 Derry
SportsNewsIRELAND interesting fact: Tyrone have won the McKenna Cup ten times since it was founded in 1927.