Harte in demand for new ruthless streak
Three Ulster managers with promotion very much in their sights in the National Football League are urging their sides to adopt a much more ruthless approach in terms of closing out games.
Mickey Harte (Tyrone), Liam Bradley (Antrim) and Peter Canavan (Fermanagh) may have considerable grounds for optimism as they ponder the closing rounds of the competition but they clearly share the fear that profligate finishing could yet prove their downfall.
Harte, whose unbeaten side confront Galway on Sunday, was less than impressed with the manner in which they overcame Westmeath last weekend and has since laid it firmly on the line that players must take their chances — or else.
“We need to make sure when we create good chances that we take more of them. We are not taking near enough of the chances that we are creating,” maintains Harte who was disappointed with the 14 wides recorded against the midlanders.
And even though the Red Hands are in pole position to make the leap into Division One, Harte is calling for an even greater level of consistency from his players.
“We need to up our performance a good bit. There can be no room for complacency. When you get into a good position you must push on and show that you have the killer instinct,” insists the focused Harte.
His sentiments are echoed by Bradley and Canavan who send their teams into crucial engagements against Longford and Waterford this weekend.
It is a measure of Bradley’s obsession with Antrim’s promotion surge that even when they beat Offaly by 2-14 to 1-8 he was critical of his side.
“We should have won that match by a lot more,” he reflects, “We need to be much more ruthless in our finishing and not allow teams to come back at us. You simply cannot afford to take your foot off the pedal no matter how well you think you might be going.
“We beat Offaly by nine points but that could have been 19 had we taken even some of the other chances we had. The next three matches will make or break us in terms of promotion and it’s absolutely essential that we go flat out until the final whistle.”
And while Antrim target a place in Division Two, Peter Canavan’s sights are on bringing Fermanagh down the home straight into a place in Division Three.
But the former Tyrone All-Ireland winning captain is making it clear that poor shot selection, feeble finishing and a penchant to go for goals when points can be garnered rather easily could prove potentially fatal flaws. We got eight points from seventeen shots against Wicklow and that’s not nearly enough,” asserts Canavan. “The fact that we did not show a ruthless streak in relation to our finishing meant that we were maybe lucky enough to win the game by just two points.”
In training this week he has already laid it on the line to his players just what it will take over the concluding stages of the league if promotion is to be gained.
“I told the lads that they will have to earn anything they get. And the only way you get anything is by putting more scores on the board than your opponents,” states Canavan. “There is no good in being dominant if you don’t translate this into scores and to do that you need to forcefully drive home your advantage.”