Sport

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte disappointed by departures

Harte has brought in Lee Brennan and Conor Meyler from the U21 squad to bolster his options
Francis Mooney

TYRONE manager Mickey Harte says he’s disappointed that half-a-dozen players have chosen to quit his squad.

The six have walked away in recent weeks, most of them citing a lack of game-time as the reason for departing the Red Hand set-up.

Ryan McKenna became the latest defection last week, while his brother Emmet, along with Paddy McNeice, PJ Lavery, Shay McGuigan and Dwayne Quinn, all departed prior to the Ulster Championship opener against Donegal.

Last season, a trio of McKenna brothers from the Eglish club were members of the squad. Now all three are no longer involved, teenager Conor having joined Aussie Rules club Essendon.

And Harte feels it is a shame that the players have opted out of the inter-county scene.

“I think it is a bit disappointing when players put in a good effort for a period of time, and then decide to move away,” he said.

“I know that those players put in a huge effort when they were there, and it is a pity that they don’t feel they should stick around and work at trying to improve themselves and get that chance if it does appear.

“Every player has to make up their own mind, and you can’t legislate for how anybody may make those choices.

“There might be different influences upon that encourage them to make a different decision, and I have to respect those influences.”

Tyrone face Limerick in an All-Ireland Qualifier round 1B tie at Healy Park next weekend, and preparations have been affected by depleted numbers on the training ground.

But Harte expressed his admiration for other fringe players who have persevered and remained on board to fight for their places.

“I do have great admiration for those people who are persistent, who stick around, work at their game and wait for their chance to come, and want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” he said.

“Every player has to make up his own mind of what he’s prepared to challenge for.

“Sometimes the opportunity doesn’t come along as often as they would like to have game-time.

“But there are other players who are very patient and bide their time, and when their opportunity comes, they are ready with both hands to grab it.

“That’s life, and there is no simple solution to it. If you’re carrying a panel of 30-plus, and you can only start 15 on any given day and use six others to the maximum, then there’s players who won’t get game-time on a number of days. That’s the way of the world.”

Just two players have been drafted in to replace the six who’ve left, both of them members of the All-Ireland-winning U21 team.

Conor Meyler and Lee Brennan have joined U21 colleagues Cathal McShane, Rory Brennan and Mark Bradley in the senior squad.

And Harte insisted that newcomers and established players will be afforded equal opportunities to challenge for places in the team.

“Anybody who is in the panel is in there to challenge for a place on the 26, and then to challenge for a place on the first 15, and that’s a fluid situation,” he said.

“It’s good to have the young blood coming in, and I think it has energised the whole group.

“They are quality players obviously, they are All-Ireland-winning players, and it’s good to have people with that kind of pedigree around the squad.

“I think it does energise the more seasoned players to see young men like that coming in and offering what they have to the cause.”

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