Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Focused Mickey Harte is wary of Wexford ambush

Tyrone star Davy Harte celebrates his goal against Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-finals with Tommy McGuigan and Joesph McMahon.

Tyrone head into Sunday’s All Ireland football semi-final the hottest of favourites.

Wexford, hammered by Dublin in the Leinster decider have been dismissed as no-hopers.

For many Tyrone fans it’s just another game to be played before crossing swords with old adversaries Kerry in the final on the third Sunday in September.

The fact the men from the Kingdom could only draw with Cork in the first All Ireland semi-final doesn’t appear to have altered that line of thought.

Manager Mickey Harte though will treat Mattie Forde and his colleagues with the same respect as he would Kerry or indeed anyone else for that matter.

He steadfastly refuses to read too much into Wexford’s crushing Leinster final defeat by Dublin, instead highlighting the many twists and turns this championship has thrown up since it began in May.

“Down beat us in the first round in Newry after a replay,” said Harte. “Wexford then beat them comfortably before knocking Armagh out at the quarter-final stage so it’s hard to argue with that level of performance.

“Now on the back of our display against Dublin does that change everything?

“Things don’t simply alter on the basis of a single result. Things are more likely to alter over a period of time and we’re in no position to make judgements as to where we and Wexford stand right now.”

“The one thing you can be definite about is that we’re both in an All Ireland semi-final, even if we took different routes to get there. We’re both there on merit and barring a draw, one of us will be in the final on merit.”

Harte, the man who guided the county to All Ireland glory both in 2003 and 2005, is as shrewd as they come.

When his side bowed out of the Ulster championship after losing to Down in June, many even within the county were convinced that side had passed its sell by date.

There were even calls for the manager to step aside, but all the time Harte kept his counsel to himself.

Slowly his massive injury crisis

began to ease and by the time the qualifiers arrived, he was able to name from a full squad, a rare luxury.

Louth were first up and dismissed with the minimum fuss, but Westmeath in Omagh were a totally different proposition. In the end Harte’s men got through by four points, but not before Dessie Dolan had squandered a marvellous goaling opportunity with only two minutes left.

In the last of the qualifiers against Mayo the margin of victory was down to just one point, but that was enough to keep them on course for that epic showdown with Dublin before a full house in Croke Park. Harte is the first to admit there’s no guarantee his side will ever play as well again.

“We would like to think we can, but every day is different and no two matches are the same. There’s a great desire within this side to do well and as long as that hunger remain we’ll be hard to beat.”