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The goal for Mickey Harte's men is to be more accurate

By Declan Bogue

Three games into their National League campaign and the only Tyrone goal came courtesy of Peter Harte when he slotted home against Mayo in the second round.

It should be noted that Tyrone are not alone in this regard. The overall goalscoring trend in Division One has been pretty awful so far, with Kerry, Donegal and Derry also having a single goal to show for their first three contests.

Across all divisions, the average number of goals per game stands at 1.45. The good news is that anyone involved in the GAA has a good five years to dream up solutions to the overly conservative game that Gaelic football has become, until the next GAA Congress when the playing rules can be altered.

In the meantime we go with what we have, and in the case of Tyrone's solitary goalscorer this season, Harte views the Red Hands' late surge to split the points with Derry on Saturday in a positive light.

"A goal was always going to be a big score in those elements, and when Derry got it with about 10 minutes to go, it looked like we could have been out of there with no points," the schoolteacher emphasised how bad it looked in the final stages for the Red Hands.

The Oak Leafers arrived in Healy Park without a three-pointer in their opening defeats to Donegal and Kerry, and although they included the ever-dangerous Eoin Bradley in their forward line, a major score appeared unlikely due to the horrendous weather conditions.

However, Enda Lynn's ball was sent on by Emmet McGuckin for youngster Terence O'Brien to slot home.

It was the one clear sight Derry had of goal all night, while Tyrone spurned a couple of glaring chances, noted Harte.

"A goal was always going to be a big score, and Aidy (McCrory) had a chance in the first half, and Cathal (McShane) in the second, and probably if you had nailed one of your goals, we might have sneaked a win there," he said.

"Derry got a goal and it put us under serious pressure, but we had great scores from Mattie, Sean, and Darren. Those boys really stood up and it was great for us."

In examining the fixture list, Tyrone would have wanted to have made hay in the early stages.

They had Monaghan, Mayo and Derry with two games at home and might have felt five points from the six available was a reasonable return. Instead, they have three points and are thankful for them with some punishing contests ahead.

They now have a Saturday night out in the capital against Dublin in the Big House.

The Dubs themselves will be smarting from defeats to Kerry and Cork, with a win over Donegal sandwiched between them.

Harte wasn't reading much into the Dublin inconsistencies.

"The Dubs are probably the best team in the country, if not, in the top two. They've been like that this last few years, and they have fantastic players," he noted.

"You have to just be impressed with them, their physique and that, so we have a tough week ahead of us to try and get ready for Saturday night.

"But this is where you want to be, in Division One football, and you get to play the best teams week in, week out."

The cut-throat nature of football at this level was reiterated by Harte when he added: "Division One is so tight that for every point you have to play to the last kick to get your point.

"Nothing will come easy, we have the Dubs, Kerry, Cork and Donegal up next, and you couldn't pick four tougher tests.

"But we just have to keep working hard.

"Every team at this time of the year is just trying to find form, trying to find fitness, get results to try and stay in this division, and if you can, make the league semi-finals."

Belfast Telegraph

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