NEW Tyrone ladies senior manager Kevin McCrystal is still playing the waiting game with no opportunity as of yet to meet up with his squad.
The Carrickmore man took over from Gerry Moane in December but because of the latest lockdown in place since Christmas, he has been unable to confirm a panel of players for the upcoming season.
“Tyrone are in a difficult position,” admitted the new manager, who is keen to rejig things.
“We had planned trials to give players who previously hadn’t been involved with the senior squad a chance. When those plans were stopped our fitness coach Matty Brady worked out programmes for the players and credit to them, the bulk have stuck at it.”
The ladies season, both at club and county level, remains on the long finger. As the LGFA prepare for its online Congress, there are hopes that an Irish Government rethink over ‘elite’ status could be on the cards shortly, which would allow county squads at least to get started.
Presently players, managers and coaches at all levels are in limbo although it’s expected that intercounty football will be first to get going sometime after Easter if the level five lockdown measures are eased in April.
Like several county sides, Tyrone would be expected to carry a bigger squad than other years, however at this stage McCrystal finds himself in a tricky situation.
“We can’t get together and as a management it’s impossible to select our final squad. We have a good idea and all the girls have bought into what we are doing.
“We have a headache but really it is very awkward. There really is nothing we can do and I know there’s a lot of frustration.”
McCrystal is in a similar situation to Mayo’s Michael Moyles, Galway’s Gerry Fahy and closer to home, former Tyrone manager Moane who went to Cavan.
It’s certainly not the best preparation for new managers, as he acknowledges.
“Managers already in place, like Maxi Curran and Mick Bohan know their players, they have an advantage but we will just have to hope there will be changes,” claimed the Tyrone boss.
A new Ulster u-21 competition, which could assist with player development, is also in the pipeline, a move which would also be a help for McCrystal and an extended squad.
Officials at Ulster GAA have confirmed that whatever changes come into force in the six counties with regard to group training and outdoor activity in the coming weeks they would not be pressing ahead with games.
Ladies football will follow that lead too although behind the scenes activity goes on.
On a positive front Tyrone fixture planners have contacted clubs with regards to proposed competitions. County S#secretary Rita Hannigan said they are being encouraged to plan ahead with clubs.
“We don’t have clear guidelines from Croke Park, we hope the Congress next week will have some answers for us with planning ahead but I know a lot of clubs have already started their own virtual sessions and we would certainly be encouraging them.
“I know some of our older senior ladies have been holding Zoom sessions for their club younger players and that’s a great way to get them involved again.”