Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Tyrone will regroup and show their true colours

They may have lost out to Dublin in the Allianz League final last Sunday but don't write off Tyrone's chances of wrestling the Ulster title from Donegal.

For a manager whose avowed aim is to win every match in which his team competes regardless of its status, Mickey Harte did not appear too despondent as he took stock of his team's sterling effort at Croke Park.

Harte knows that their character, courage and skill were never in any doubt during a game that afforded an insight into the attributes of both sides – but with the Tyrone boss maybe taking a few extra plus-factors on board even though a rare defeat was his lot on this particular occasion.

Assuming that Stephen O'Neill is fit to face Donegal on May 26 and that Peter Harte can recover from his hamstring problem, Tyrone will, on paper at least, be rather stronger.

They will require to show improvement in a few areas, of course. Their shot selection was poor on occasions on Sunday and it has to be said that the chances which fell to substitutes Plunkett Kane, Aidan Cassidy and Kyle Coney quite late in the game should have been put away.

Tyrone's display has certainly added further allure to their meeting with Donegal in a match which has already captivated the GAA fraternity.

Everyone, it seems, has an opinion on this contest although I would prefer to hedge all bets until the actual composition of the teams is made known. Then we would be in a position to conduct a more precise analysis of what might happen in what has become an enduring rivalry on the Ulster stage.

Let's not forget, either, that both Derry and Monaghan have sent out a reminder that they must not be forgotten about in any assessment of the Ulster Championship.

Brian McIver's side produced a storming finish to eventually snuff out the challenge of a feisty Westmeath outfit while Monaghan's tenacity and spirit were rewarded when they eventually got the better of Meath. Both sides know, of course, that they will have to take things to the next level if they are to make an impact in the Ulster series and I have no doubt that they have the capacity to do just that.

There are still those who decry the value of the league but there are nonetheless many managers who would have relished the task of taking their teams to Croke Park last weekend to participate in divisional finals.

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