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We were determined to rectify our past disappointments, says Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

 

By Declan Bogue

In descending order, this was a Tyrone team that was avenging the Mayo defeat at the same stage last year, and that collapse and no-show against Armagh in the Round 2 qualifier game in Omagh in 2014.

There was a steeliness and almost an edge to Tyrone manager Mickey Harte as he dredged up those losses.

"We do know what it felt like to leave here at this stage last season and we were not happy people," he recalled.

"We had put a lot into the year at that point and we had put enough into the year to at least give ourselves a second chance and we didn't get it.

"That's soul-destroying when you think of the work that these boys put into it nowadays.

"So this has been brewing in us for a year and we have been very happy to get back here and give ourselves a chance to be playing football later in August."

The 18-point margin here suggests that there was a personal element to it, with Harte continuing, "We were very disappointed to lose in Omagh in that game, in that particular year. So yeah, you have to store those things and bring them to use if you can.

"But you can't depend on that. You have to have quality players who will put their bodies on the line to get you those results.

"No amount of mental wanting to do that will make that happen, the players have to make it happen."

Winning by 18-points though, all the same. Wow. And yet while it came as a slight surprise, Harte was fully confident Tyrone were going to very comfortable victors.

"I still thought we should have been good enough to have the sort of score difference we had through the rest of Ulster because I felt we were in a better place than Armagh were," he explained. "They were a side that had done very well after losing the first round and they gained a bit of momentum.

"But you have to look at the reality of it.

"They played their football in Division Three and we played our football in Division One, we would expect to be ahead of them.

"We did expect to win the game, we did expect to win it with something to spare. That's the truth of the matter."

And yet, he does his best to convince that there were chinks in this performance, things to work on.

"We have to say we stumbled into that lead," he added.

"We didn't play with poise or real quality, we just picked off some good scores.

"The penalty was significant and getting that early goal meant there was that cushion there. It's not to say we were happy with our first half performance.

"Yes, the scoreboard was grand for us, and it was a matter of making sure that we kept that gap, that if they got a score we got one back."

So Tyrone head into an All-Ireland semi having waltzed through the opposition to date. So have Dublin. So have Kerry. That's what the top teams do, how they keep the other teams down.

After all that, the best player on the pitch - Harte's nephew Peter - was quizzed on the prospect of them winning an All-Ireland.

"Time will tell. We are working hard for it, so we'll see where we get to know after today," he said.

Pressed further on what he truly believes, he added reluctantly, "Ah, since I've been involved with Mickey Harte, all Mickey Harte teams believe they can win All-Irelands and I don't think we are any different."

Three weeks and counting for the game of the year.

Belfast Telegraph

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