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Harte insists Tyrone have learned from 2014 Armagh 'ambush'


By Declan Bogue

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has kicked off the mind games ahead of this weekend's All-Ireland quarter-final derby against Armagh by suggesting that match day officials should watch out for aggressive play.

Speaking at a press event at the Garvaghey Centre, Harte recalled the 2014 Round 2B Qualifier between the two sides in Omagh.

As referee Cormac Reilly threw the ball in to start that game, a number of scuffles developed with Armagh remembered as the aggressors.

When the dust settled, Reilly booked Armagh's Aidan Forker and Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone, who was sent off after 30 minutes after a second yellow card.

"We believed that we would win that game and I felt that we got a little bit ambushed on the day. That is probably even more annoying than the result and we felt that we suffered a bit from stuff that was not of our own making, so we have to learn from that," said Harte.

"We have learned since then to be aware of those kind of things and to know that you can be faced with things that you might not always expect. Being forewarned is forearmed."

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Harte went further on the controversial incident, stating: "There was an element of aggression, of off-the-ball aggression, and one of our players got a yellow card and he was left on a knife edge for the rest of the game - so much so that a clumsy tackle caused him to have to leave the field and we were down a man and it led to what was not a great day for us.

"Perhaps we did not anticipate that coming and I suppose it is good to know that is a possibility that can happen when you go out to play anybody and it taught us not just about the direct opponents we are playing now but that we have to be ready for every game."

Six of the Armagh team that started that day in Omagh have since left the panel, but Harte believes that the Kieran McGeeney factor - although he was a selector under Paul Grimley in 2014 - will come into play.

"The commonality here is the manager is the same and his philosophy as to how the game should be played, his determination and his way of leading players will be the same," he said.

"He has learned more over those years as well, he is not the same man he was in 2014. He has learned along the way, he now has a lot of experience as a manager and we are beginning to see that experience come to fruition and he has a lot of really solid people around him who were soldiers in the field with him and now they are soldiers on the sideline and that is to be respected."

In his 15th season as senior manager, that defeat in 2014 ranks alongside last year's All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Mayo, where Harte believes something similar occurred with Sean Cavanagh picking up a booking at the start of the second half after Mayo's Lee Keegan began tussling with him as they fell into their positions.

"Indeed, we experienced it in another encounter in Croke Park and you would like to think that with so many eyes watching this now that they would be able to decide who the instigators are and aren't," added Harte.

Belfast Telegraph


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