GAA Football

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte: 'Who wouldn't get excited about Darragh Canavan?'

Darragh Canavan has given glimpses of his rich potential throughout the Dr McKenna Cup.
Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Andy Watters

TYRONE manager Mickey Harte admits he is excited by the potential of Errigal Ciaran starlet Darragh Canavan.

The teenage forward, son of Tyrone legend Peter Canavan, was introduced as a substitute as Tyrone regained the Dr McKenna Cup by beating Armagh at the Athletic Grounds last Saturday night and, with Killyclogher’s Mark Bradley absent this season, the talented youngster could now make a mark on the National Football League.

“Who wouldn’t be excited about Darragh Canavan?” said Harte.

“If you haven’t had time to get excited about him yet, I guarantee you will in the near future. He is just quality, he is a very young lad and we have to be careful with him because he’s just out of minor.

“But he’s a quality player and it’s not hard to see where he picked his skill off.”

It was another young forward, Darren McCurry, who spearheaded Tyrone’s attacking threat last Saturday night, top scoring with a nine-point haul that included eight frees.

“Darren took a break last year and he has come back with a new attitude and a new aptitude, a new desire and that is good because he is a quality player, he has all the skills in the game,” said Harte.

“It’s good to have people like that around you and ultimately he’s a finisher.”

Harte will hope that McCurry maintains his form and that Canavan continues his development in the League which starts with a trip to Tralee where the Red Hands take on Kerry this Sunday. The three-time All-Ireland winner says the target for his side is “to do as well as we can”.

“Obviously in Division One you’re first ambition is to make sure you stay there and if you have enough points to stay there with some games left you want to get to near the top of the table,” he said.

“They are the phases we look at – get as many wins as you can to be safe and then try and get as many more as you can to near to the final.

“If we can do that (get to the final) then we’ll be very happy.”

Meanwhile, Harte warned that the experimental advanced mark could go the same way as the ill-fated three handpass rule after Saturday night’s Dr McKenna Cup final.

Tyrone’s Cathal McShane and Armagh’s Jamie Clarke both scored points from marks, but neither score was within the guidelines of the proposed new law that will be used in the National Football League.

Midway through the second half Clarke caught a ball kicked from the middle third inside the Tyrone 45-yard line. Confusion reigned as he seemed to stop to call for a mark before continuing and kicking the ball over the bar on the run. Red Hand defenders, who had backed off expecting a mark, complained to referee Joe McQuillan but the Cavan official waved play on.

Then, near the death, Tyrone’s McShane claimed a mark near the Armagh posts but he took 24 seconds to have his attempt at goal – the law stipulates that only 15 seconds are allowed.

“I think it was good that there was a review of the idea that it (the handpass rule) would go straight into the League after this,” said Harte.

“It was good that somebody, in their wisdom, decided that it should be looked at again before we head into the League. The rest of the rules that did go through don’t cause a lot of havoc but one of them in particular could – the offensive mark could be dangerous.

“When a mark is made inside, if the player plays on or shifts it on to somebody for a goal the referee has blown his whistle which means that people automatically stop, particularly defenders, so there has to be some other way of determining whether it is a mark or not.

“In fact there was a mark taken tonight (Jamie Clarke’s) and he played on and it was stood. There are a whole lot of variations that need to be ironed out and it’s okay doing it in pre-season competitions or even in trial games but in the white-heat of the Championship they’ll be very crucial.

“But it’s not to be in for the Championship which means that we’re going to have to handle a number of rules during the League which don’t apply to the Championship.”

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