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Tyrone's versatile Harte expects a tough battle

By John Campbell

Peter Harte has grown accustomed to finding himself at the epicentre of Tyrone's version of musical chairs.

Since making his senior debut in 2010, the Errigal Ciaran clubman has played in a variety of positions for the Red Hands, in the process underlining his value to the side.

On Sunday he will ostensibly line out at wing-back but just what his role might entail remains to be seen.

Having launched his inter-county career at wing-forward he was then withdrawn and handed the centre-half-back job which caused raised eyebrows, the thinking being that such a stylish forward was not quite cut out for robust defensive duties.

But manager Mickey Harte saw Peter's potential to make searing bursts from deep and thus he continues to fulfil a role in the back division.

He will come up against familiar opponents on Sunday having played against Down on several occasions, but this has only served to heighten his respect for them.

"They will come to Omagh believing they can win and they will make life very difficult for us," states Harte. "Maybe they did not get promotion in the league but that won't matter in the context of Sunday's game."

Having adapted comfortably to his defensive role, Harte has not neglected his scoring skills.

He still manages to pilfer points and in Tyrone's most recent game against Dublin in the Allianz League, he converted a penalty which helped to cement his team's recovery after they conceded two goals in the opening 70 seconds.

Harte will find himself confronting forwards such as Mark Poland and Conor Maginn as Down strive to bring what manager James McCartan terms as their 'A game' to the table.

Tyrone have been slow starters in recent games, a fact admitted by their captain Sean Cavanagh.

But while they were able to make up ground on opponents in the league, this might not prove so easy in the championship.

Down will travel to Omagh conscious that they drew there in 2008 before winning the replay at Newry and a stalemate on Sunday would certainly generate satisfaction for McCartan's men.

"We have played very rarely in championship football in Newry and that's something we would like to see addressed," says manager McCartan. "But Healy Park is our total focus right now."

Belfast Telegraph

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