'I don’t think it’s a retirement, it’s just a break': Connor McAliskey opts out of Tyrone squad for 2020

'I don’t think it’s a retirement, it’s just a break': Connor McAliskey opts out of Tyrone squad for 2020

Connor McAliskey has left the Tyrone squad, and will play no part in the Red Hands’ challenge for honours in 2020.

It’s understood the corner-forward has decided to opt out for a year, and the door has been left open for his return.

Manager Mickey Harte confirmed the Clonoe man has informed him of his decision to take a break from inter-county football.

“He doesn’t feel that he’s ready to commit for this particular year,” said Harte.

“I don’t think it’s a retirement as such, it’s just a break.”

McAliskey’s game time was limited during the 2019 season, chiefly due to a combination of injury and a shift in attacking strategy which saw Cathal McShane and Mattie Donnelly pushed into advanced positions.

McShane’s move to the inside line proved to be a sensational success and earned him an All-Star award.

McAliskey is not the first attacker to leave the Tyrone squad in recent times.

Ronan O’Neill departed earlier this year, frustrated by a lack of game time.

Darren McCurry also left the set-up last year but returned this season.

And Mark Bradley missed the entire 2019 campaign after taking a year out to pursue post-graduate studies in Liverpool, but is back home, and set to return for the season ahead.

Tyrone captain Mattie Donnelly will miss the National Football League due to a hamstring injury which is set to sideline him for six months.

He suffered damage to a tendon which holds the hamstring to the bone while playing for Trillick in the Ulster Club Championship against Derrygonnelly of Fermanagh earlier this month.

His absence will be a huge blow to the Red Hands’ hopes of challenging for the Division One title, and there’s also concern that the former All-Star could miss the Ulster Championship opener against Donegal.

Midfielder Declan McClure is also likely to miss the early part of the season, having suffered a knee injury while playing for Clonoe in the club championship last month.

Tyrone will get the new season under way when they begin the defence of their Dr McKenna Cup campaign on Sunday, December 29.

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