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Title is much sweeter after lengthy famine: Harte

By Declan Bogue

Published 18/07/2016

Cathal McShane and Mickey Harte
Cathal McShane and Mickey Harte

New Ulster champions Tyrone are still driven by the things that once made them great as they aim to recapture former glories.

In his speech after the victory over Donegal, Sean Cavanagh name-checked the people dear to Tyrone GAA that had been mentioned before; Paul McGirr and Cormac McAnallen. And he added a new name to that list - Michaela, the beautiful daughter of Red Hands boss Mickey Harte who was killed on honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011.

Harte said: "This is the best of all of them because of the six-year famine and because of what had gone before. Maybe Ulster titles were taken for granted.

"It's the elation of the people that matters more to us. We wanted to win this game, we had a serious desire to win this game.

"But we knew there was a want in the rest of the county to celebrate winning an Ulster title."

Never again will they take success for granted.

Harte continued: "Thinking back to 2009 and 2010, we didn't celebrate our Ulster titles. We will certainly celebrate this one and I think this is memorable. I think this is great to have people on the pitch, this is what the GAA is about. It is a sad day that it doesn't happen in Croke Park.

"This is what makes it, letting the children, the families onto the field to really savour the occasion. This is more exciting than anything else, the fact that people are so full of elation at the result of a football game. I think it is special."

For long stretches, the football was so cagey and tense. That might mean boring for some couch potato judges, but the tension in Clones was almost unbearable for players, management and spectators.

It felt like that to Harte with three minutes remaining.

"When Mickey Murphy put them one up with a free, I really did say to myself, 'this in the hands of God' but God shone on us," he smiled.

That point came just before a number of phenomenal plays from Cavanagh which typified the Red Hands' resistance and ultimately delivered their 14th provincial crown.

"That's why he is the player he is. That's why he is recognised as the player around the country, the man he is," Harte said of his captain.

"He is a leader. He has been there and done it since he was 19 years of age and I am just so delighted that he is lifting this Anglo-Celt Cup because nobody deserves it more."

On what this does for this group of players, Harte commented: "That establishes them in their own right, it gives them confidence and it means that they are now a maturing side with silverware to show for it."

Tyrone are through to the All-Ireland quarter-final, and can face Cork, Mayo or Westmeath on August 6.

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