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Harte takes satisfaction from a job well done but pinpoints Donegal as an even greater challenge

 

By John Campbell

There was no denying the quiet satisfaction that Tyrone manager Mickey Harte derived from the polished manner in which his side surmounted their first hurdle in the defence of their Ulster crown at Celtic Park yesterday.

A league campaign that did not quite go to plan had served to lengthen the odds on the Red Hands remaining in the provincial seat of power but yesterday's performance has thrust the O'Neill county firmly back into the national spotlight again.

And it would be to delve into the realms of understatement to infer that Harte's hunger for more success has been further sharpened - the fact of the matter is that it requires little honing.

"I think we showed that we have the desire and the drive which it takes for the championship and I am obviously pleased by the way in which we were able to give game time to players who came off the bench and did so well for us," said Harte.

"This is why we work so hard in training and why we are continuing to assess players. We have players who put their hand up to be included in the side and while a lot of people will think that maybe we were taking a chance with Conall McCann by giving him his championship debut, we knew that he was ready for it."

Harte is already focused on his side's Ulster Championship meeting next month with Donegal and believes that the game will shed a new light on this year's competition.

"Obviously Donegal did very well in the League and it must be remembered that they beat us so they will want to repeat that," he said.

"At the same time, we will be going into the game buoyed by belief and knowing just what we will be facing up to.

"Donegal have shown they are a good side, they got a big win over Antrim in the Ulster Championship last week."

The manner in which the old and new faces blended so well yesterday convinces Harte that competition for starting places in his side will be stepped up even more.

"Obviously we had people missing but there are others who seized their chance and this is very encouraging going forward. We have of course things to work on in the build-up to our semi-final but that's a challenge the players will relish. I feel it's where we want to be," observed Harte.

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