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Adrian Logan: Tyrone Harte to believe? Not now they aren't!

I hate to tell you I told you so, but I will.

Dublin, in my opinion, were an accident waiting to happen and they never saw it coming.

In the build up to this All Ireland quarter-final, all the talk and all the hype was about how good Dublin were. The pundits to a man, bar a few from the North, talked about how much the Dublin side had improved and how this would be their year for the "dream final" against Kerry.

It wasn't to be. In Croke Park on Saturday, as the rain teemed down, Dublin were simply shown up for what they are. An ordinary, hard working side and no more.

Tyrone hit 3-14 in total and it could have been more — 3-13 of it came from play and the management will be delighted with that effort.

But even in victory, Mickey Harte will have words with some of his players who allowed Dublin through on at least three different occasions for goals.

Dublin made a real mess of an effort on 15 minutes when the score stood at two points each. A goal there could have put a different complexion on in it for a while at least. But not for long.

This was a game all the Tyrone team couldn’t wait for. This was a game they wanted for a long time. Tyrone players and management knew there were serious problems with the Dublin team all over and Mickey Harte's men exploited them to the full.

Just a few short months ago, people all over the county of Tyrone and further afield said Mickey Harte should step aside. They said he had lost the ear of his players and was losing the dressing room. It appears nothing could have been further from the truth.

In all honesty, that negative talk and poor turnouts from the fans gelled this bunch of players like never before. On the odd occasion, they let their disappointment show with a few public comments but they also showed great loyalty to Harte and it paid off.

Throughout this season they had been struggling in games, only showing rare glimpses of their ability.

Dublin were entitled to be favourites but to quote Tyrone at 3/1 in a two horse race was just crazy. This was a Tyrone team who swept aside Louth but hit 18 wides. They struggled to cope in the latter stages against Westmeath when they were reduced to 13 men. Tyrone hit 15 wides that day as they also did against Mayo in Croke Park.

The signs were there that Tyrone could play but all the talk of a team being over the top was daft. I also read in the build-up that the game would come down to hunger. The scribblers said Dublin had that in abundance, unlike Tyrone. They clearly don’t know Harte, nor indeed Tyrone fans. The hunger is always there, no matter what level the game is played at.

Dublin on Saturday struck me as a bunch of players who had begun to believe their own publicity. It was as if they thought it was only a matter of turning up. They were so nervous from the start, it was amazing.

But the real truth for me was what I said last week. Dublin hated the thought of playing Tyrone. From the minute the draw was made, Dublin were nervous. It was the one pairing they didn't want. They feared Tyrone and so it proved at the weekend.

Tyrone will be content that they sent out such a warning to the rest of the teams left in the race for Sam Maguire. From a team who were quoted at 40/1 to win Sam they are now being lauded as genuine pretenders to the Kerry throne.

Tyrone, unlike Dublin, will keep their heads down after this. Just after the final whistle sounded at Croke Park, Brian Dooher called the players into a huddle and told them in no uncertain terms that they had won nothing.

He also told them of the threat of Wexford in the semi-final. Wexford, the Tyrone players were reminded, had beaten Down, who defeated Tyrone earlier this year, and Ulster champions Armagh. Wexford will be no mugs but neither will Tyrone.

Tyrone will start as favourites but, as Harte was quick to point out, Dublin were hot favourites to beat Tyrone and things didn't turn out that way.

I've said for months now that this is a Tyrone side worth watching and worth supporting. Maybe now the stay-away fans will get their act together and get behind this team and the people who have sat on bar stools calling for the head of Harte will slink off into the corner.

Saturday was right up there with the famous All Ireland victories of 2003 and 2005. It was a masterclass from all the players and by Harte. He has shown once again that he is one of the greatest managers the game has ever produced. If Harte was in control of Dublin he would win countless All Ireland titles. Thankfully he won't be managing them at any stage.

Tyrone were awesome on Saturday and if they can hold their nerve and meet the challenge of Wexford head on, then they will make the All Ireland final of 2008. I think Wexford will pose a greater threat than Dublin. They won't lie down and will fight for every ball. And in Mattie Forde they have one of the best attackers in the game. Tyrone know all about him and Harte will not be taking anything for granted.

Still, that’s for another day. Let's just sit back and appauld Tyrone for their brilliant win and keeping the Ulster flag flying high in Croke when so many wanted to see the Province fall flat on it's face.

Tyrone Power at it's best. It was a joy to watch.

Belfast Telegraph


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