It was good to hear that County Senior Manager Mickey Harte has decided to call up two additional very promising young talents to his panel for The Barrett Lighting Mc Kenna Cup campaign. Both Ciaran Gervin and Patrick Mc Neice were outstanding for their clubs this year as they won championship titles at intermediate and senior club level within Tyrone. Young Girvan in particular was absolutely outstanding for his club all season and in spite of his youth displayed great leadership qualities when his side most needed it. Coalisland youngster Mc Neice has been hampered by injury at various stages of his career but his scoring and free taking ability made a massive contribution to his side’s success this year. The inclusion of such young talent is refreshing to see and they join their team mates from the 2008 All Ireland Winning minor side Ronan Mc Nabb and Kyle Coney on the panel for the first competition of the new season. Both players will help to fill out the squad now that Jason Mc Anulla and Raymond Mulgrew have wthdrawn from the panel. The Cookstown player was the starman in Tyrone’s 2004 minor side but has failed to make a significant impact at senior level. It is thought he has taken a break to focus on his studies and do some travelling later in the year.
Other players from that all conquering side of 2008 bound to feature soon on the manager’s radar in addition to the likes of Niall Mc Kenna and Peter Harte. Hopefully a fully fit and focussed Matty Donnelly will make a return and perhaps Gortin’s Kevin Mossey might also get a call. However what I am really looking forward to seeing this year is both Damian Mc Caul and Aidan Cassidy returning to inter county football. Cassidy in particular was sorely missed last year and would give the manager many different options from midfield right through to the full forward line.
For the younger players in particular they might feel somewhat out of their depth for a while but with players like Brian Dooher, Ricey Mc Menamin and co to help them settle in they should not take too long to acclimatise. In no way do I want to belittle The Mc Kenna Cup but it would be great to see some of these young lads get some game time under their belts before the cut and thrust of National League and Championship football comes around. We all know what the senior players are capable of doing but the experience of playing Inter County Football for these newcomers in a less pressurised environment would stand them in good stead in the long term.