THE Tyrone senior inter-county squad for the 2021 season is starting to take shape after trials were conducted prior to Christmas by new joint-managers Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher.
The new management team have assembled a preliminary panel ahead of the league after casting their eye over a series of in-house games at Garvaghey, and excitingly for Tyrone fans there are some big-name returnees who had either quit or taken time out during Mickey Harte’s tenure.
Lee Brennan, Connor McAliskey and Jonathan Munroe have rejoined the set-up, while there are a number of less established players who have also impressed at trials.
Brennan left the panel in May 2019 as he was frustrated by a lack of game-time, making only two league appearances, one as a sub, in the early part of that year.
However, he’s continued to shine with his club and was already familiar to the new management team as he was a key player in Tyrone’s run to All-Ireland U21 success in 2015.
Another ace scoring forward, Connor McAliskey, has also decided to return to the fold after a year’s absence.
The Clonoe star battled back from a career-threatening injury to finish as the joint-second top scorer in the 2018 All-Ireland Championship, but he was hit by bad luck again when he broke his ankle while playing for his club just a fortnight after the All-Ireland final.
McAliskey, who also suffered family tragedy with the sudden death of brother-in-law Christopher Colhoun in January 2018, explained that he needed to take time out to rejuvenate physically and mentally, and he has now decided that the time is right to recommence his intercounty career.
Carrickmore’s Jonathan Munroe has also returned to the fold after a relatively short stint as a Tyrone senior player earlier in the decade. He withdrew his services in May 2017, but he’s decided to recommence his intercounty career and it’s understood that he was a stand-out performer in the in-house games. Carmen teammate Cormac Munroe, who captained the U-17 team to All-Ireland success in 2017, is also involved.
Elsewhere, it will come as no major surprise that Dungannon Clarkes have representation as Mark McKearney and Paul Donaghy, who top-scored in the Tyrone Senior Championship, have been recruited by the new management team.
Talented Coalisland forward Tiarnan Quinn, who vice-captained the All-Ireland U20 team this year, is also part of the preliminary panel.
Clonoe’s Danny McNulty – who was starting full-forward on the Tyrone U21 team in 2015, – didn’t make the step up to senior level in subsequent years unlike many of his colleagues, but his raw talent is without question and Logan and Dooher seem keen to give him a chance.
Other new players who impressed sufficiently at trials are Omagh defender Aidan Clarke, who was part of last year’s Tyrone U20 team, and Dromore’s Peter Teague, who caught the eye in this year’s club championship.
Intriguingly, it’s also understood that Logan and Dooher experimented with playing Tyrone’s regular goalkeeper Niall Morgan at midfield during the in-house games – the position in plays with his club, Edendork.