Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Tyrone stay on guard for glory

Mickey Harte will warn his troops to take nothing for granted when they play Wexford

Many Tyrone fans are already making plans for another All Ireland final weekend in Dublin.

There’s still the small matter of an All Ireland semi final against Wexford to be played, but that is being overlooked as football fever again sweeps this football mad county.

Manager Mickey Harte is careful to play down such talk, insisting that’s it being disrespectful to a side that shocked Ulster champions Armagh last time out at the quarter-final stage.

“It’s all to easily forgotten that Wexford have presented us with problems in the past and it would be wrong to read too much into their Leinster final display against Dublin, when they fell away badly after a promising first 35 minutes,” he said.

Football never ceases to surprise. In his first year as manager Harte led Tyrone to a first All Ireland success in 2003 and again two years later, lowering the colours of high flying Kerry.

And yet for all that, there were some so called supporters calling for him to step aside two months ago after his team exited the Ulster championship at the hands of Down in Newry after extra time in an epic replay.

As always the Tyrone boss stayed calm working his way through a well documented injury crisis before easing through the qualifiers with victories over Louth, Westmeath and Mayo.

There was little to suggest in any of those matches that a resurgence was at hand and obviously Dublin, like so many of us, didn’t see the warning signs.

“Certainly Dublin were the overwhelming favourites when we travelled to Croke Park last Saturday and rightly so. We’ve been playing only well in patches, whereas Dublin had little bother in winning a fourth Leinster title.

“And yet I always felt there was a big game in us and there’s no better place to produce that than against Dublin in Croke Park,but there were certain factors that had a huge bearing on the match.

“Alan Brogan is a quality player and his loss early in the game was a massive blow to Dublin.

“They then missed some good early chances, including one for a goal and after that you could see mistakes creeping into their game.

“From our perspective it was encouraging that we were able to get goals and well worked goals at the right time. The second just after Dublin had scored theirs allowed us to go in at half time in a comfortable position and our third goal effectively finished off the match.

“We certainly weren’t 12 points a better side than Dublin. It was just on the day we got the breaks and that always helps,” he added.

In trouncing Dublin, Harte’s men produced a level of performance that was a throwback to those heady days of 2003 and 2005 with inspirational captain Brian Dooher in particular rolling back the years to deservedly walk away with the man of the match accolade.

Tyrone’s most pressing priority now has to be on keeping focused. Put All Ireland talk to one side and concentrate solely of beating Wexford.

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