Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Defensive resilience the key, insists Harte

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte will place his faith in defensive experience when the Red Hands confront Derry in a vital Division One National Football League tie at Celtic Park on Saturday.

While the Tyrone attack may not quite have been firing on all cylinders recently for obvious reasons - the absence of several marquee players being the main one - their rearguard has been showing further signs of the resilience, tenacity and togetherness that helped to garner All-Ireland titles in 2003 and 2005.

And setting the tone have been Conor Gormley, Davey Harte and Ryan McMenamin.

Now Harte hopes this trio will lead a show of defiance against a Derry side still feeling the pain following their reversal against Galway last weekend.

"I was very pleased with the way the side as a whole dug in against Donegal last weekend but we will face a Derry side now very hungry for points and obviously keen to atone for their slip against Galway," said Harte.

"They have a lot of good players in there and while we have been showing a steady improvement we will need to take things to the next level if we are to get another couple of points and, hopefully, secure our place in Division One for next year."

Gormley's ability to assume fire fighting duties wherever required is proving a marked boon for Tyrone at the moment.

It would appear that when a particular forward in the opposition's colours begins to become a major threat, Gormley is immediately dispatched to curb his influence.

It was a case in point again last weekend when Gormley subdued the previously dangerous Colm McFadden in the Donegal attack and next Sunday he could find himself confronting Paddy Bradley who was held scoreless for the first time in a long time by a stubborn Galway defence in which full-back Finian Hanley was outstanding.

While Bradley will seek to recapture his scoring flare, his brother Eoin, Mark Lynch, Conleith Gilligan and the rest of the Derry attack will attempt to breach a Tyrone rearguard that is certain to offer a solid barrier to their endeavours.

Derry manager Paddy Crozier, disappointed with the manner in which his side conceded three goals against Galway, is likely to make changes to his line up.

And he will certainly seek change in one department - spirit.

"We allowed Galway too much freedom and they certainly made the most of it," said Bradley.

"We never managed to rein them in in the second half and we will have to absorb lessons from that defeat."

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