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Tyrone boss Mickey Harte upbeat despite painful twist in the tale

By Declan Bogue

Published 20/06/2016

Fair play: Mickey Harte was full of praise for opponents Cavan
Fair play: Mickey Harte was full of praise for opponents Cavan

After the first rip-roaring contest of the summer up north, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte was barely given time to catch his breath before he was asked about Cavan's third goal that prolongs this semi-final for another fortnight.

"Given where we were, how much time was left and how we put ourselves in a nice position, a three-point win would have been a lovely way to finish the game," he said.

"It's a pity that we did concede it, but it wasn't all our doing, Cavan had a hand in it as well. It was their good play that gave them what they got. They played very well today and you have to hand it to them."

There is no doubt that David Givney was the star of the show here. At 6ft 4ins he has a three-inch advantage over his marker Ronan McNamee and made it count all day long.

Given Harte's reluctance to use Justin McMahon, we can only assume the Omagh man is badly off the pace. The question then arises as to why he was on the bench anyway.

Asked if the younger of the McMahon brothers was closing in on full fitness, Harte responded: "He wouldn't be far away now. He has recovered fairly well. He hadn't a lot of game time even with his club since his injury. Another two weeks would certainly do him no harm."

On rare occasions is Tyrone's defence breached like this. After Down scored four goals against them in Harte's first year and first Ulster final in the drawn 2003 encounter, he came back a week later with a new full-back in Cormac McAnallen. Let's wait and see what happens in the next fortnight.

"We could never get a total foothold in the game," Harte admitted.

Under Harte, Tyrone have only lost two replays. Some pop-psychology might suggest that Cavan's late goal hands them an advantage heading into this replay, but Breffni boss Hyland wasn't buying it. "Ah, I don't think so. Tyrone are a battle-hardened side at this stage and I don't think psychology will come into it really," he said.

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