Dr McKenna Cup: Three games moved forward including Derry v Tyrone

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GAA managers express reservations over rule changes

Three Dr McKenna Cup games have been moved forward to the weekend of 15-16 December - two weeks before the scheduled start to the competition.

Fermanagh will host Ulster University in Section C on 15 December with Derry facing Tyrone at Owenbeg in the same group the following day.

The Red Hands are unable to play on 30 December because they will be on a team holiday abroad.

Armagh will also face St Mary's College at Crossmaglen on Sunday, 16 December.

The three remaining first-round games will take place as scheduled on 30 December with all the round-two and round-three games remaining on 6 January and 9 January.

The semi-finals be played on 13 January with the final scheduled for the following weekend.

McKenna Cup an opportunity for trio - Harte

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte says the McKenna Cup will offer Kyle Coney, Darren McCurry and Conan Grugan the opportunity to re-establish themselves in the Red Hand County squad.

Grugan and Coney haven't played for Tyrone for more than three years with McCurry opting out last March.

"We know quite a bit about their ability and what they have to offer," said the Tyrone boss.

"The McKenna Cup is a good place to see if they can bring it on to the next stage, maybe with the anticipation of them bringing it to a step further."

Omagh club-man Grugan opted out of the Tyrone squad in late 2014 with former Australian Rules player Coney following suit a few months later, after the 2015 McKenna Cup.

Edendork forward McCurry pulled out of the squad last March for work reasons after being unable to claim a regular starting role in the early part of this year's Football League.

Mark Bradley in action in this year's All-Ireland Final
Mark Bradley has opted out of the Tyrone squad because of his study commitments in England

Harte will welcome back Bradley to squad

Mark Bradley's study commitments in England means he will not be involved this year but Harte says the Trillick forward will be welcomed back to the squad.

"He's a very good player and has been very good for us but it's a decision he had to make himself," added the Tyrone boss.

"I'm happy to go with him on that and I hope that he'll be returning when he gets all that sorted out."

Goalkeeper Mickey O'Neill has also opted out and the Tyrone manager says the Clonoe man will be missed from the squad.

"He's been understudy to Niall [Morgan] to a large degree. They've battled in and out and Mickey to his credit has kept Niall Morgan at a very high level because he has been very good company to be in there.

"He's always had a smile on his face at training or wherever he has been with us so we're going to miss him and the banter he brought."

BANK OF IRELAND MCKENNA CUP FIXTURES

15 December

Section C
Fermanagh vUlster Universityvenue tbc 13:00 BST

16 December

Section B
ArmaghvSt Mary'sCrossmaglen, 13:00
Section C
DerryvTyroneOwenbeg, 13:00

30 December - all 14:00

Section A
CavanvDownvenue tbc
DonegalvQueen'sMacCumhaill Park
Section B
MonaghanvAntrimClones

6 January - all 14:00

Section A
DownvDonegalPairc Esler
CavanvQueen'sCavan venue
Section B
MonaghanvSt Mary'sClones
AntrimvArmaghCorrigan Park
Section C
FermanaghvDerryBrewster Park
TyronevUlster UniversityHealy Park

9 January - 20:00 GMT

Section A
DonegalvCavanMacCumhaill Park
DownvQueen'sPairc Esler
Section B
ArmaghvMonaghanAthletic Grounds
AntrimvSt Mary'sPairc Esler
Section C
DerryvUlster UniversityOwenbeg
TyronevFermanaghHealy Park

13 January - 14:00

Semi-Finals
Section A winnervSection B winnertbc,
Best runner-upvSection C winnertbc

19-20 January

Final