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Kilpatrick happy to welcome fresh new faces on board

NEIL Kilpatrick stresses that their Ulster Under-20 Championship winning panel welcome the call-up of fresh faces to the squad even if it stiffens the competition for places.

Seven players have been drafted into the Red Hand pool for this Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final clash with Dublin, the first match for Tyrone since they annexed the provincial crown back in March.

Rising young Edendork star Kilpatrick played an integral role in their march to Ulster glory back in the springtime operating at wing-half back, catching the eye with his high energy levels and adventurous sorties from deep.

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However he is well aware that those past impressive displays will not guarantee a starting jersey this weekend.

“Everybody is fighting for their spot. There was seven new lads brought in to freshen things up because we had a couple of injuries. They are not coming in just to make up numbers. The new boys will definitely be pushing for a starting spot and it will make those lads who were in before train that bit harder to secure our spot.”

This is the second time that Tyrone Under-20s have undergone a week of intensive preparations for this meeting with Dublin. Seven months ago the rug was pulled out from under their feet just days beforehand, with the scheduled St Patrick’s Day showdown at Croke Park cancelled due to lockdown.

Kilpatrick is just relieved now that the fixture will belatedly go ahead all being well.

“The whole thing (lockdown) kicked off a couple of days before we were due to play Dublin at Croke Park on St Paddy’s Day in the semi-final.

“That was a big blow but given there was doubts at stages even if the competition would finish we are just pleased now to have this chance to play them a lot later in the year.

“We haven’t been training together over the last couple of months but we have been working on and off. We have all been doing our own individual programmes to come back stronger. Hopefully we will be able to put it up to them now down in Cavan next Saturday.”

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