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Tyrone 'learned from a disappointing league campaign'

 

By Declan Bogue

Despite losing the last three games of their Allianz League campaign, Peter Harte believes Tyrone are better placed heading into this Championship mission than they were last year, when they swept their way to their first Ulster title in six seasons.

After a bright start to the National League, Tyrone lost to Donegal, Mayo and Kerry in their last three games, prompting many to doubt whether the Red Hands can retain their provincial crown.

However, Harte - who made his Championship debut in 2010 - believes that the Red Hands have learned more in defeat than cruising through Division Two as they did in the spring of 2016.

"Division Two last year, in the last couple of games we had already qualified for Division One and you don't learn the same as you would against the likes of Kerry, Mayo and Donegal," maintained the schoolteacher.

"You have to take the positives from it. Yes, there were things that didn't go well for us, but it is much better finding those things out in March or April than August or July."

Tyrone get their Ulster Championship campaign off the ground on Sunday when they visit Celtic Park to face Derry for the second consecutive year.

Damian Barton's men were relegated to Division Three in April, prompting Oak Leaf fears that last year's 11-point defeat will be repeated.

Harte is taking nothing for granted, though. He stated: "No two matches are alike, the first 10 minutes could go any way and the game can take on a life of its own.

"Derry are always dangerous. They have as good a crop of footballers as anybody.

"The first round of the Championship in Celtic Park, it is a one-off game and we will be very focused on going in there and getting the performance right.

"Hopefully after that, we can take a positive result."

While his uncle and boss Mickey has often lamented their anaemic performance in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Mayo, Peter has another slant on it.

"I think it's a pessimistic way to look at it. There was no way to think that if you would have beaten Mayo you would have beaten Tipperary. I think people get ahead of themselves when they think like that," he added.

"We didn't beat Mayo, we didn't perform well enough to beat them on the day.

"That's something that is hard to take, something that we are trying to put right.

"You can't look at it and say that we missed the boat; you get your chance and you either take it or leave it."

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