Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Derry will end up Harte broken

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has made an art form out of winning All Ireland titles.

And yet when the All Ireland champions face old adversaries Derry in tomorrow’s Ulster senior football championship semi-final he will still have the same appetite and hunger that was his trademark back in 2003 when it all began.

Those who have watched Tyrone train will vouch for the fact that the players too share that same hunger and single mindedness.

“It’s a privilege to be associated with the quality players we have in Tyrone,” he said.

“It’s also a privilege to be involved with a Tyrone side at the top of its game.

“Having the degree of success that we’ve enjoyed means working hard, keeping the players fresh and focused and always being receptive to new ideas.

“It’s a challenge, but I’m fortunate to have some very good people around me and we all work well together and we all bring our own unique contributions to the table.”

There’s never any danger of Harte taking Derry or anyone else for that matter for granted.

He’s mindful how the Oak Leaf men turned Tyrone over in the 2006 Ulster championship when they were the then All Ireland champions.

Prior to that Tyrone’s championship record against Derry was an impressive one.

“I can’t see either side running away with this match. I imagine it will be a very close run thing.

“We played well in spells against Armagh, but we need to step up on that.

“Our priority is to play at a higher level for a longer period of time, but Derry too have their eyes set on bigger things and they made it clear that the championship was their goal so we’ll be facing a serious challenge,” he added.

There are some suggestions that the crunch game at Casement is the Ulster final in everything but name.

Harte though disputes that notion insisting that’s being disrespectful to both Antrim and Cavan.

“There are numerous examples where teams have supposedly come through the tough side of the draw only to lose to a side that had come through the other half of the draw.

“Teams with that mindset are treading a very dangerous path,” he added.

It’s an intriguing clash between a team, three times All Ireland champions, against the young pretenders.

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