Tyrone have flashed out a defiant message that they could now reign as a footballing superpower for some years following their stunning 1-15 to 0-14 victory over Kerry in yesterday’s All Ireland final at Croke Park yesterday.
On a day when the Red Hands also came close to making it a glorious double by landing the All Ireland Minor crown – they were held to a draw (0-14 each) by Mayo – a clear marker was laid down that more success is on the way.
Having overcame Kerry in the All Ireland semi-final in 2003 and in the 2005 decider, Tyrone scored their own three-in-a-row over their greatest rivals yesterday, thus consigning their opponents’ cherished dreams of a triple All Ireland bonanza to the sporting dustbin.
And given the raft of talent coming through at Minor level and the reservoir of skill and experience that manager Mickey Harte currently has on his replacements bench, it is difficult to see Tyrone being dislodged from their proud pedestal in the forseeable future.
Harte, pragmatic as always, is prepared to look no further than this evening’s planned homecoming carnival, though.
“This is all about the players and what they have contributed and achieved. Obviously you want to look to the future but we will enjoy our success for the moment. I honestly could not ask to work with a better bunch of players than this Tyrone squad,” said Harte.
Having steered Tyrone to their three All Ireland coups, Harte is now destined to remain in his post for as long as he wishes.
And given his almost insatiable appetite for action and quest for success, he is certain to enhance his reputation even further.
The Tyrone boss underlined yet again yesterday his imposing tactical nous, his deployment of his substitutes in particular proving crucial in fashioning this latest accomplishment by his team.
“I have consistently maintained that this is a squad sport. Obviously you can only start 15 players in any given game but the rest of the members of the panel have big parts to play. That was shown again yesterday and I have no doubt that many players who maybe did not get game time yesterday will contribute much in the future to Tyrone’s ongoing welfare,” asserted Harte.
His side have now won two of their three All Ireland titles having initially been beaten in the Ulster Championship. Indeed, when they captured the Sam Maguire Cup three years ago, they played no less than ten championship matches – the most demanding itinerary that any side faced in winning the competition.
This year they conceded the Ulster title to their neighbours Armagh but if they lost the battle, they certainly w on the war in an All Ireland context.
Yet Harte makes it clear that the Ulster Championship title still means a lot to Tyrone.
“Winning the provincial title is always good and it can never be downgraded. It is a major competition,” said Harte.
Thousands of fans are expected to greet the Tyrone team when they arrive at Aughnacloy at 6.00 tonight. From there they will travel to Ballygawley and then on to Omagh.