'Don't worry about that': Mickey Harte vows to lead Tyrone back to the top after Dublin defeat
Mickey Harte insists there is more left in his Tyrone team despite another season ending without silverware following their 1-18 to 0-18 defeat to Kerry in yesterday's All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park.
It's now been 11 years since their last All-Ireland success and while some are suggesting there is no stopping Dublin in the final, Harte believes his team can come once more and win the biggest prize.
"Of course I do, of course I do. I think this team is a work in progress and I think they will continue to compete at a high level and I think they will get better," said Harte, who saw his Red Hands outscored 1-13 to 0-9 in the second half to blow a great position at half-time when they went in 0-9 to 0-5 ahead at the break.
"I have no reason not to think that because if you look at our history and record over the last few years, it's been very consistent and consistently getting better each year," Harte added.
"Sometimes just because you didn't get to the place you got last year it doesn't mean this team isn't better."
Asked whether he himself plans to be there next year - which will be the last year of his current arrangement - the Red Hands boss answered emphatically: "I sure do."
Tyrone’s record in the All-Ireland Championship now shows one of serious consistency, but with an enormous black mark.
Since 2008, they have failed to beat a Mayo, Kerry or Dublin team in the All-Ireland Championship.
In 2008, they beat all three from the quarter-finals stage onwards, but have come up short each time in the height of the summer.
Asked about that after this latest defeat in the All-Ireland semi-final to Kerry, Harte responded: “It’s disappointing to hear the narrative that comes out about that, because we did beat them in other competitions, we beat both of them in the league and pushed them close on many other occasions.
“And the times that we beat those teams in the past, there was a kick of the ball here or there. We could have lost them just as much as won them so the teams that won it in those situations can be grateful they got the rub of green in those situations and made it count, and this current group of players are on the unfortunate side of the levelling off of that statistic.
“So one day that will be put to bed, so don’t worry about that.”
On the flow of the game, Tyrone struggling for air after the half-time break, he said. “They came out with a different attitude in the second half — that they were up for the challenge, up for the fight. As the game went on, that became very apparent. And I suppose when it got close, a point for point game, a goal was going to be major for any team and that’s the way it turned out.”
Harte also talked up the chances of Kerry giving Dublin a serious examination of their credentials in the final.
“Ah of course they will, they’re in the final, they’re a very experienced team now, and even their young players are experienced at a high level,” he noted.
“And Kerry is Kerry, they don’t go to finals to lose them, so I think that Dublin will have their hands full with them and who’s to say can they do it?
“Kerry are probably the ideal team to stop somebody else doing the five in a row, because they knew what that was like themselves and maybe they would like to inflict that on somebody else.”
Harte also added that he does not expect any retirements from the Tyrone squad.
Really, only Colm Cavanagh is doubtful at this stage given his length of service, having made his debut back in 2007 in the prelimary round game against Fermanagh.
He was an All-Star last year but there was something of the sight of him bringing his daughter on to the pitch at the end that suggested tough decisions will have to be made in the near future.
Harte said: “I wouldn’t like to talk about that right now, I think it’s a bit raw to be thinking like that at the minute and as anybody who is at that end of their career in terms of age would need time to reflect on it for themselves first of all, before anyone else should make any suggestion about whether they should go or not go.
“So I think we’ll leave that to see what people think about that themselves and if some people think that way, then we’ll have to have a conversation with them soon.”