TYRONE’S McKenna Cup campaign will throw in at the significantly earlier than usual date of Sunday, December 16 this year.
The draw for this year’s pre-season competition was made last night (Wed), but it was already determined that both Tyrone and Fermanagh’s requests for a pre-Christmas start has been granted, although they will not necessarily play each other.
Competition record holders Tyrone are set to go on holiday to Thailand in the last week of the year, while Fermanagh also have a number of players off on holiday, while the rest of the first round matches will be played on December 30.
Meanwhile, the Chronicle can confirm reports that Mark Bradley probably won’t be playing for the Red Hands next season as he is studying for a Postgraduate Certifate of Education in Liverpool next year.
While Kieran McGeary was able to balance studying for his PGCE this year while making a big impression for Tyrone in their run to the All-Ireland final, it’s understood that Bradley could take the full year out.
It’s also been reported that some old faces are set to return to Tyrone colours for the McKenna Cup as it’s believed that Kyle Coney, Darren McCurry and Conan Grugan all made the grade at recent trials.
Coney departed the Tyrone senior panel in early 2015 in frustration at a lack of game-time but had an excellent club season and has decided to give it another go, while Omagh midfielder Conan Grugan is also back for a second stint.
Darren McCurry withdrew in March citing work commitments, while it’s also understood that there are a number of other new faces on the panel including Galbally youngster Liam Rafferty and Derrylaughan’s Brian Kennedy.
Goalkeepers Benny Gallen (Aghyaran) and Lorcan Quinn (Donaghmore) are also understood to be part of the McKenna Cup panel, and they will compete for the spot vacated by Michael O’Neill, who has departed the panel.