Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport GAA

Harte: Red Hands still have to be wary of Celtic Park

 

By John Campbell

The words of Damian Barton after the final whistle of Derry's Ulster Championship defeat to Tyrone last year are worth revisiting.

"We were beaten, well beaten everywhere on the pitch," the Newbridge man said, looking stunned. "Losing any game is devastating but the manner in which we lost it is even more. It is confusing and devastating.

"It is my job to make sure that people are in the right place. I did not do my job today."

The statistic that got most traction in the build-up to that game was that Tyrone had never beaten Derry in a game of any worth in Celtic Park.

With two goals from Ronan O'Neill - who starts on the bench tomorrow - and one soccer-style finish from Peter Harte, the travelling support had all of the second half and a lovely 11-point cushion to enjoy.

Still, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is warning that Derry's previous exemplary record has a role to play when they recommence hostilities in the Bogside.

"I still go back and think one result there does not change an awful lot. It is a place where Tyrone have not had a lot of success," said the Red Hands boss.

For the past number of weeks the Derry camp have been in disarray. Last week, goalkeeper Thomas Mallon walked out after it became clear he was going to be playing second fiddle to Ballinderry teenager Ben McKinless. The week before, Slaughtneil midfielder Padraig Cassidy cut short his county involvement.

These names are added to the growing list of those choosing to do other things with their life.

The roll-call also includes recognised names such as Cailean O'Boyle, while James Kielt is suspended for the match having been red-carded in the final league game against Fermanagh.

And while the Oak Leaf players do not looked equipped to do anything, Harte still stirs up memories of the infamous 2006 Ulster clash - when Derry held Tyrone scoreless until the 38th minute in a storied win against the then-All-Ireland champions.

"We have the experience of 2006, when we were defending All-Ireland champions playing in our own backyard and Derry took us out," Harte recalled.

"These things happen, and anybody who is not prepared for a real tough encounter in the Ulster Championship, then they are asking for trouble.

"We hope that we are well prepared physically and mentally for this to be a completely different game than last time."

Asked if he would remind his group how the 2006 edition felt after that chastening loss, Harte became philosophical.

"You can talk all day and speak about things until you are blue in the face. But people need to take it on board and that's the challenge," he said.

"You can share all sorts of information with people, but when they cross the white line they need to be able to deal with the energy that Derry will bring to this cauldron. Their drive to turn the tables on us, we need to be ready to deal with that.

"Knowing about it is one thing, being able to do what you need to do to deal with it, you can't really anticipate that until you see how people perform."

Going into an Ulster campaign as favourites for the first time since 2012, Harte eschewed the reflex to dismiss the odds. He said: "I've always suggested there is more trouble going into a competition where people don't think you have a hope. That is a more difficult place to be because they don't think that for no reason.

"Yes, you can rise to the occasion and prove them wrong, but I would rather go in with people believing you had the potential to win it because then, there has to be some substance to that.

"I will take any weight of expectation as an endorsement of the belief and the quality of the players we have."

Derry

Tyrone

Ulster SFC quarter-final:

Celtic Park, Tomorrow, 2pm

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph