Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Harte to make his case for defence

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is aware that defensive solidity must now become a priority as his team continue their quest for National League honours.

When the All Ireland champions met Dublin in their opening game, their whirlwind start was negated when Pat Gilroy’s side turned in a stirring second-half performance, only losing narrowly in the end.

The reverse procedure was enacted when Kerry visited Healy Park, Omagh at the week-end, the Kingdom romping into an eleven-point lead before being reined in by their hosts who still lost by 2-10 to 0-13.

In both games, Tyrone looked decidedly vulnerable at the back on occasions, particularly when quick, accurate first-time ball was played into space.

Against Kerry, Joe McMahon was shown a yellow card but Tyrone were fortunate that at least two other players did not suffer a similar sanction.

Now manager Harte is assessing his rearguard options for the visit of in-form Galway to Omagh for what promises to be a gala floodlit occasion on Saturday week.

In overcoming Dublin by 3-12 to 0-13 last Sunday, Galway displayed

the kind of pace and finishing power that could stretch Tyrone to the limit with Pauric Joyce and Michael Meehan hugely influential in their victory.

This duo will surely threaten Tyrone’s stability unless they are firmly shackled - and Harte is acutely aware of this.

And while Tyrone prepare to get back on track, Down are planning to bring their promotion surge to the next level.

They have placed thmselves in an ideal position to move up after two successive wins over Tipperary and Louth.

Ross Carr’s number two, DJ Kane, was watching from the sidelines at Pairc Esler as both sides produced an enthralling spectacle, which saw the game go down to the wire and Down ’keeper Brendan McViegh having to save Shane Lennon’s injury-time penalty to assure victory for the Mourne County.

“It was a fantastic game of football," said Kane, “It was very exciting and entertaining and high-paced the whole way through.

“Maybe we got those couple of breaks at the end, which made the difference for us.”

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