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Mickey Harte optimistic that more success will follow Cup triumph

By Declan Bogue

Ultimately, the McKenna Cup is like Chinese food.

Tempting, when you are in a certain mood. Easily consumed. Rapidly digested. Instantly forgettable.

You take what you can get out of January and Mickey Harte has a cup, and a new midfielder that fits the bill Tyrone need in Padraig McNulty.

The young Dungannon man is a forceful runner and a big presence around the middle that will compliment Colm Cavanagh's honesty. If he can seal a place on this side in time for Championship, then it can release Sean Cavanagh permanently to the full-forward line, where he is an awesome prospect.

"Paudie has had a good McKenna Cup and a good first season with Tyrone seniors," said Harte after McNulty was awarded Man of the Match in the final.

"He is playing very well and long may it continue. He's an improving player, every day he goes out you see something else about his skills that you hadn't seen before.

"That was a particularly good performance from him tonight in the second half when we needed leadership. And when it came the young players could see that's very rewarding for all of us."

McNulty was directly responsible for the first three points of the second half with his running straight down the middle which either drew a free in front of the posts or a point from his boot. However, it was the subtlety of Darren McCurry that gave something different to Tyrone as they began to pick their passes with more precision.

"You need to play with width if you're up against a defence that's well marshalled, and playing to a system like Cavan do," explained Harte. "And I suppose we were playing into their hands a bit by cutting into the middle rather than cutting up the flanks."

Asked if he will see a lot of that in the league, Harte responded, "Certainly, there are some teams that like to play that way. Everybody plays it in their own unique way, they're not a sort of a slave to anybody else, but they have a defensive concept of how they might play the game and break out.

"And when teams play like that, then it isn't as easy to find inside forwards. People have to be patient and you have got to use the width of the pitch rather than the centre."

And once that was out of the way, all attention turned to Monaghan, visitors to Healy Park in the opening round of the National League this Saturday night.

"We all know that when you do hit the league you have to step up a gear because it's that intense," said Harte, "Especially when there are two league points at stake, particularly when you are playing in Division One. So we have to play with a new intensity next week. That's the question we have to ask ourselves, are we ready for that intensity?

"And if we are, then we can acquit ourselves well. But if we are not, if we play like we played in the first half, I wouldn't like to think where we might be at half-time against Monaghan."

A date with Roscommon in Kiltoom awaits Cavan, and manager Terry Hyland revealed that they had rested a couple of injury doubts on Saturday night. They need to hit the ground running in Division Two.

"Jason McLoughlin we're hoping should be OK, we took him out as a precaution, Tom Hayes was the same. It is the McKenna Cup - we would have loved to win it but the first round of the League is more important," he explained.

"It is a tough group, very competitive. There's not much difference between the bottom half of Division One and Division Two."

Belfast Telegraph

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