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Dublin are vulnerable and can be dethroned, maintains Harte

 

By Declan Bogue

Dublin may be going for four All-Ireland titles in a row, but one man who is not prepared to lay down and surrender his side's claim to the Sam Maguire is Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, who doesn't buy into the 4/6 odds in favour of Jim Gavin's men.

"I wouldn't subscribe to that fatalism," said Harte at the launch of the 2018 Ulster Football Championship, held at the O'Neill's superstore in Strabane last night.

"No team lasts forever. Now, some teams do take a lot longer to get rid of than you would like if you are from a different county, but Dublin are in pole position.

"They deserve to be where they are, they are a serious outfit. But there has to come a time when they can be beaten. I hope that we are one of the ones around when that happens."

Harte believes the ongoing absence of Diarmuid Connolly from Gaelic Games of any kind, at any level, coupled with the cruciate injury suffered by Bernard Brogan in February, has left the Dubs in a vulnerable state.

"I think that is the case. I think whenever you keep winning and the people have the medals, it is hard to see them all having the hunger to want more and sometimes you can't replace the old hands," he said.

"New ones, no matter how talented they may be, they don't have the experience, the guile of the boys they are replacing.

"There is a wee window of opportunity where they are maybe a wee bit below the high standards of where they have been over the past couple of years. We can only hope."

While Tyrone gear up for their Ulster quarter-final against Monaghan on May 20 in what is sure to be a full capacity Healy Park with the game not being shown live, he is sweating on the fitness of Lee Brennan, who emerged as their leading scorer throughout the National League, after he pulled up in Sunday's league game for Trillick against Donaghmore.

"Lee had a hamstring issue (on Sunday)," Harte revealed.

"We don't know the full details of it but I think he came off as soon as he found that, so that is always good."

Harte added that Brennan didn't have a scan on the injury, but said: "He is seeing the physios tonight (Monday). He has been talking to them and, from speaking to them, it doesn't appear to be a serious hamstring injury, and the fact that he came off as soon as he found it is promising that it is not too serious.

"They will probably look at it tomorrow night and look to see what they think after they do a wee bit of work on it."

Another area of concern is Colm Cavanagh's ongoing quad issue, which has kept the current All-Star largely out of action since his run to All-Ireland Intermediate glory with Moy.

"He is still not right and he hasn't trained fully with the team. He is definitely under pressure to be ready. I am still not giving up hope and would love to see him at a more advanced stage than he is, but it is not a case where it is lost yet, but it is under pressure," said Harte.

One man who is back in action is Tiernan McCann, who played against Moy on Sunday after recovering from a broken kneecap sustained during the league.

Harte said: "Tiernan is back in business, he played a bit yesterday and was back training with us last week. He is happy that he is over the injury part of it."

Harte also stated he doesn't think Tyrone will have a case to answer for marginally breaking the GAA's 10-day rule about training camps ahead of Championship games, when they head to Carton House this weekend.

"I don't think there is anything wrong when we have an agreement with the clubs and the county board," he said.

"Nobody has said anything about the arrangement we have made so I don't think it is a very serious issue."

Belfast Telegraph

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