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Tyrone boss Harte purring over standout performances while Gallagher turns his gaze to a route less travelled

 

By Declan Bogue

At the Tyrone press briefing prior to this semi-final, Mickey Harte warned the poor souls in front of him that this game could be grim. "It won't be a shootout at the OK Corral!" he stated.

But with 1-21 on the board, surely he was pulling our legs?

"You don't always tell people what's going to happen!" he joked afterwards, having presided over the most impressive Tyrone performance in almost a decade.

Asked if he felt there were signs a performance of this calibre was coming, he answered emphatically, "Absolutely. I am the eternal optimist anyway. I have been seeing that coming for this last year and a half.

"I knew that some day we would deliver the kind of performance that we are capable of. And of course conditions were fine for us today. We do like the dry sod and hot days in Clones."

That's twice they have played Donegal in a sunny Clones in the last year, winning both of them. It must feel a real relief compared to the misery of those defeats in soaking Ballybofey in 2013 and 2015.

"We like coming here, we like winning matches here," the Errigal Ciaran clubman continued.

"At the same time, the bottom line is we have played two Championship matches in Ulster, there was no cups handed out any of those two days.

"If we at the end of the Ulster final don't have the cup in our hands, then this will be a very different result.

"It will only be a good result if we have the cup in four weeks' time."

But as ever, he is a manager, and he must obey the unwritten rule of finding fault somewhere.

"It's easy to sit now and look at the scoreboard and think we had an easy day out - no we hadn't. We actually worked very hard for 45-55 minutes and that made the last 15 or 20 not as tense as it might otherwise have been.

"We worked ourselves into that position to be able to see out the game comfortably but if you reflect on the video evidence there's still plenty of things we could tidy up on."

For a crestfallen Donegal manager Rory Gallagher, a lot of soul searching ahead.

"We are very disappointed to be beaten in the manner that we were. We were well and truly beaten."

He now faces the qualifiers, saying: "We went with a very open mind at the start of the year and didn't expect things just to go smoothly. We kind of got a bit of a free ride to be honest since the Kerry game. There were seven players starting their first championship game and we got to accrue experience. We didn't want to accrue experience like today. That is the ultimate test. Very few teams just arrive on the scene and get success."

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