Harte gunning for McKenna Cup run

TYRONE boss Mickey Harte is targeting a first Dr McKenna Cup success since 2007.

He wants to make a strong start to the year by going for a first title in five years to lay down a solid platform ahead of the start of the Allianz Football League next month.

The Red Hands take on Queen’s University in their Power NI McKenna Cup opener on Sunday, with further group games against Antrim and Peter Canavan’s Fermanagh.

“We’re assured of three games at the moment, and our aim is to get five if we can,” said Harte.

“And if you get five games, your preparation for the league will be in a better place than if you don’t get that. So we’re looking forward and hoping to stay in it as long as possible.”

And Harte is not surprised that, since the Dr McKenna Cup was moved to its current January slot, its winners have frequently gone on to enjoy success in the championship.

The Red Hands’ own period of dominance in the pre-season tournament coincided with the county’s golden era of the noughties.

“You have to have the winning mentality, it doesn’t matter what competition you’re playing in, if you don’t set out to do your very best, then there’s no on-off button in being competitive.

“You’re either competitive all the time or you’re just not there.

“So this early season competition lends itself to that, and I’m not surprised that there’s a correlation between doing well in the McKenna Cup and doing well later on.”

The Tyrone boss views the McKenna Cup as the perfect vehicle for preparation for the league campaign, which for Tyrone starts with a Croke Park meeting with Kildare in Division Two.

“I’m delighted that it comes in at this time of the year, I’m delighted that the counties in this province, and the people involved take it seriously, because if you didn’t do that, it would be a waste of time, and we’re no different than anyone else.”

Tyrone squad: D Carlin, A Cassidy, C Cavanagh, C Clarke, K Coney, J Devine, M Donnelly, C Gervin, P Harte, P Hughes, J Lafferty, D McCaul, A McCrory, N McKenna, J McMahon, T McGuigan, R McNabb, S McNallly, R McNamee, P McNeice, S McNulty, M Murphy, R O’Neill, S O’Neill, M Penrose, PJ Quinn.

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