GAA Football

Teenage star Darragh Canavan gets Tyrone senior call-up

Tyrone's Darragh Canavan comes under pressure from Down's Ruairi Slane and Matthew Murnaghan in Clones. Picture by Seamus Loughran.
Francis Mooney

Teenage sensation Darragh Canavan, son of the great Peter, has been called up to the Tyrone senior squad.

The talented 18-year-old has been tipped for greatness, following in the footsteps of his famous father, the man who captained the Red Hands to their first All-Ireland title in 2003.

Remarkably, Canavan has yet to make his first championship start for his club, Errigal Ciaran, but he has already been thrust into world of inter-county football.

He could get his first opportunity to display his prodigious talents in the Dr McKenna Cup opener against Derry at Celtic Park later this week.

A gifted attacker with uncanny similarities in style to his famous dad, Canavan first came to prominence last year when he scored a magnificent goal at Croke Park to help Tyrone to victory over Roscommon in the first ever All-Ireland U17 Football Championship final.

It was only in the latter part of this season that he broke into the Errigal senior team, but he made an instant impact with a string of brilliant performances as the Dunmoyle club won a second successive Division One league final.

Canavan was man of the match in the final, when he scored five points to help the holders defeat Omagh to retain the title.

He also captained his club to the Tyrone Minor Championship title this year.

Manager Mickey Harte, also from the Errigal Ciaran club, has made a number of moves in recent weeks to give his side more attacking thrust as he prepares for the season ahead.

Former attackers Darren McCurry and Kyle Coney have been recalled to the squad, along with some emerging talents who have been impressing on the club scene, and all are set to feature in the McKenna Cup.

Tyrone have been granted an early start to the competition as they will be on a team holiday in Thailand when the first round is scheduled on December 30.

After playing their opening fixture against the Oak Leafers next Thursday, they will have a 17-day break ahead of their second game against Ulster University at Healy Park on January 6.

Harte has made it clear he intends to approach the pre-season competition in a highly competitive manner.

His side has dominated the McKenna Cup in recent seasons, and last season’s defeat to Donegal in the final halted Tyrone’s bid for a seventh successive title.

The Tyrone boss has made it clear he is opposed to any moves to scrap the pre-season competitions as a means to further condense the inter-county season.

“I think that there’s a lot to be done in the overall scheme of things, where it’s going to take a lot of work to get the best possible balance,” he said.

“We can’t say it’s there at the moment, and I’d like to think we could still facilitate the pre-season competition, because we don’t do challenge matches, so we don’t have any great opportunity to prepare well for the cut and thrust of the National League.

“So I’d like to think there would be some gap kept in the calendar for these pre-season competitions, and perhaps other things could still continue to be condensed, that we might get part of the inter-county season closed off earlier, and leave a better gap for club football at a certain time of the year, and maybe re-introduce the county football at another time.”

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