Dr McKenna Cup: Mickey Harte wants Tyrone to book final place

Cathal McCarron challenges Gavin McParland in the 4 January encounter at the Athletic Grounds
Tyrone fought back to beat Armagh in a tempestuous McKenna Cup Section C game on 4 January

Mickey Harte wants his Tyrone team to book a Dr McKenna Cup final spot on Saturday evening though it would mean three matches in six days a week before his team begin their league campaign.

The Red Hands will face Armagh in Wednesday's semi-final at the Athletic Grounds (20:00 GMT).

"It's not ideal but I'd rather be playing games than not have any games at all," Harte told BBC Sport.

"So yes, it's good to have this game on Wednesday night."

Harte has made 13 changes to his starting line-up from the team which beat Antrim on Sunday, with Sean Cavanagh and Dwayne Quinn the only players to retain their positions.

Tyrone, who begin their Football League Division One campaign against Monaghan at Healy Park on 31 January, opened their 2015 campaign by beating Armagh in a tempestuous McKenna Cup Section C on 4 January.

An early melee led to Colm Cavanagh and Ciaran McKeever being red carded two and a half weeks ago while the Orchard County finished with 12 men after Finian Moriarty and Aaron Findon were dismissed after being handed second yellow cards.

Mickey Harte happy with McKenna run as Tyrone set up Armagh game

Tyrone's Cavanagh did later have his red card over-turned following an appeal.

Harte believes Wednesday's game will see both sides parading teams which are likely to be closer to their opening League line-ups than was the case on 4 January.

"It will be interesting to see what both teams have learned from the last three weeks," added the Tyrone boss.

"I'm sure the players will be fitter because of the games and we'll be getting nearer to the teams that are going to start in the league.

"They (Armagh) were competitive in the first game and I'm sure they will be no less competitive a few games later."

Over 8,000 people turned up to watch the group game at the Athletic Grounds and the match had to be delayed by around 30 minutes because of delays in getting the spectators into the venue.

Another big turnout is expected in Armagh on Wednesday night.

In Wednesday's other semi-final, Cavan will take on Fermanagh at Breffni Park.

Fermanagh booked their last-four spot by winning Section B on scoring average despite losing narrowly against Donegal at Ballyshannon on Sunday.

Cavan also qualified for the semi-finals despite losing one of the Section A games.

Tyrone: M O'Neill, D Quinn, R McNamee, R McKenna, R Brennan, M Donnelly, P Harte, C avanagh, C McCann, PJ Lavery, R O'Neill, P Hughes, S McGuigan, S Cavanagh, C McShane.

Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup semi-finals

Wednesday, 21 January, 20:00 GMT

Cavan v Fermanagh - Breffni Park

Tyrone v Armagh - Athletic Grounds

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