Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Ulster Championship final: Winning is all that matters to Tyrone boss Harte

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

Tyrone's sixth Ulster final appearance in 10 years is testimony to Mickey Harte’s managerial credentials.

There’s also the small matter of three All Irelands and yet he remains unfazed by it all.

He first cut his teeth with the county minors and under-21’s before graduating to the senior grade where in his first season at the helm he brought Sam Maguire to the county for the first time.

And through it all there’s never any chance of him taking Ulster or indeed All Ireland glory for granted.

“We shouldn’t be thinking that this is the way it’s going to be,” Harte explained.

“It wasn’t always like this and it won’t be always like this because things come in cycles.

“I hope that we can maintain that cycle for some time yet, but there are no guarantees.

“Many sides would have felt that they were here for the duration of a generation and it didn’t happen so we have to savour and enjoy what we have just now.”

Victory over Monaghan would see Harte’s men achieve back-to-back titles and you sense the manager would relish the prospect.

But as always he has more than a healthy respect for the opposition.

Monaghan came up short against Tyrone in the 2007 provincial decider, but everything now points to them being a more accomplished side.

“If you are looking for a form side you would have to say Monaghan in that they coasted through their two matches so far,” he said.

“In the other provinces no other side has shown as much quality.

“But we certainly aren’t low on confidence. We’ve a good side with loads of experience and while we mightn’t have had the prettiest of victories, winning is all that matters at this stage.”

GAA fans love nothing better than to debate the relative merits of the back door system, but it’s Harte’s opinion that the front door is still the best route to follow.

And he makes the point that it’s a safer and more predictable place to be.

“You have that bit wee bit more of a time frame between the final and your next game whereas if you lose the Ulster final you are than straight into the qualifiers six days later,” he added.

The Tyrone boss, though, is convinced his players are good enough to compete back-to-back victories on Sunday afternoon in Clones.

Only in the event of defeat would he contemplate life through the back door, a measure of his supreme confidence, not arrogance but confidence born from being a winner.

“If I didn’t believe we could win an All Ireland then I shouldn’t be manager,” he said. “If you don’t genuinely believe this is possible then it won’t happen, but if you believe it’s possible it may happen and we believe it’s possible.”

Those preparing to write off the three times All Ireland champions should think again.

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