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Tyrone sense of the spiritual makes them tougher opponents

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone's Ronan McNamee was remarkably fresh-faced for the All-Ireland quarter-final launch, held in the remarkable surroundings of Loughmacrory St Teresa's.

It's something that was revealed in Cathal McCarron's autobiography last year, but McNamee got into detail about the panel's ritual of saying The Rosary before games.

"It can't do any harm, or cause anybody any upset that we are doing it," he began.

"We would go to Mass as a team if we are staying away in Kerry or Dublin. It's as much part of it as the meetings and the stats work."

When Mickey Harte first took over Tyrone in 2003, there was a strong sense of the spiritual journey about them. And when that is present in any team, they are dangerous.

Hard to believe that at the end of the league, there were some advising that his time as county manager was up.

According to McNamee, that should be a long time off, even allowing for the fact he is in the last year of his current arrangement.

"The players wouldn't want him to go anywhere. Other people might want other things, but looking at it, I couldn't see any other man coming in to take over the reins," he emphasised.

"I think he is the man for the job."

Asked if he deserves better than the limbo his job operates within, McNamee commented: "Because he is there for so long, I don't know what ideas others might have, but I can't see him leaving any time soon.

"Whatever happens, happens, but I see him there next year and the year after."

Various Tyrone players have said that last year's Ulster title was over-celebrated. That was only natural given that the vast majority of the panel were winning their first title, the opposition -Donegal - and the frantic nature of the finish.

This time, victory over Down was greeted with glee, but also with a sense there is unfinished business.

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