Second chance is not sour grapes, says Tyrone manager Mickey Harte
The All Ireland football qualifiers have been under fire from several sources recently and last night Tyrone manager Mickey Harte reiterated his call for an overhaul of the concept particularly in relation to the four provincial champions.
“I have been saying for some time that this is essentially an unfair system,” said Harte (right).
“The provincial champions do not get a second chance in the All Ireland Championship series as things stand and this is patently unfair. My feelings on this are well-known — I am certainly not making this point simply because of our defeat by Dublin.
“I think a formula could be worked out whereby provincial champions are afforded a second chance which I feel would only fair. I see nothing wrong with an extra round of qualifiers to accommodate that.”
And the triple All-Ireland winning manager has already confirmed that he will be in charge again next year.
“You can take that for granted,” said Harte emphatically.
And he has quickly dismissed suggestions that some of his players might now call time on their inter-county careers.
“If you are taking your cue from our captain Brian Dooher who is 35 soon, then I think that the next oldest player to him is 30, so I don’t see that as a major issue. Decisions will be made by individuals in good time and we will see what happens,” said Harte, the most successful manager in Tyrone’s history and one of the greatest ever to have come out of Ulster.
And while his call for a qualifiers rethink may yet bear fruit, the theory that teams which get a second bite at the cherry can prosper has certainly been given added currency this year with Down and Dublin now both through to the All Ireland semi-finals having journeyed through the back door route.
But any notion that this has been a straightforward exercise has been firmly jettisoned by Dublin’s Bernard Brogan whose nine superb points, five from frees, earned him the man of the match accolade against Tyrone.
“While we were delighted to get those qualifier victories over Tipperary, Louth and Arnagh, the fact that we had to come into this game of such high intensity against a team like Tyrone after playing for a few weeks on the bounce really made big demands on us. I can tell you that some of our guys were hardly able to drag themselves off the pitch at the end such was the level of effort they had put in,” said Brogan.
But he nonetheless believes that Dublin’s new-found team ethic could now take then further down the line.
“We knew that Tyrone would be formidable opponents and we were convinced that real teamwork would be the key to success.
“Every player spilled his last drop of sweat for the cause — that’s what it takes to get the better of a side as good as Tyrone,” added Brogan.