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Harte sounds a warning of away day joy for Roscommon

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is keenly aware of Roscommon's success on the road when they begin their Allianz National League campaign this Sunday against Kevin McStay's men at Healy Park.

Roscommon were hotly-tipped to be relegated last year after coming up as Division Two champions in 2015, but recovered from a first-round defeat to Monaghan to record wins over Kerry, Cork, Down and Donegal to make the semi-finals.

Given that the Donegal, Cork and Kerry wins were delivered away from home, Harte knows that Healy Park will not hold any fears for them this weekend.

"Obviously they're not fazed by going on the road, and they believe they have a style of football that will serve them well in this division," said Harte.

"And I don't think that Tyrone will hold any fears for them, because they'll believe they have a year's experience in Division One, which we haven't got at the minute, so they'll probably want to use that psychological edge if they can."

Winning the Dr McKenna Cup for the sixth consecutive time has been already parked by a Tyrone panel that know it counts for nothing if they disappoint on Sunday.

With four home games in the league, Tyrone have a better chance of reaching the league final, with the semi-finals abolished this year to make room for more club fixtures.

"Two points against Roscommon is the thing that's really most important now, so we have to prepare now for what's a more important game in the broad sense of what the season's about," continued Harte.

"They put a lot of energy into having a really good start to the league, and they got the points because of that, which actually brought them to the semi-final, never mind kept them clear of relegation."

Harte made the point in the past that a team cannot entertain realistic expectations of winning an All-Ireland if they played outside the top flight of league football.

Tyrone are making their comeback after a year in Division Two and will look forward to the helter-skelter nature of the league once more.

He also said of last year, that they didn't necessarily see themselves as a Division Two side, as they felt their competitive performances the previous year did not merit their relegation.

"It's a challenge to go up to the highest level and play there, but I think these players are well capable of doing it," he explained.

"They have played at a high level of under-age Tyrone teams, they have played at a high level at college, and there's still a lot of good football played in Ulster.

"A lot of the teams that we would be playing are Ulster teams in Division One of the league, so you're talking about the big ones of Kerry, Dublin and Mayo, who have been there all the time this last lot of years.

"Outside of them, there's a lot of people who feel that can challenge each other, and we want to be in that challenging pack."

Belfast Telegraph

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