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Harte: Galway are maturing into major force

By Declan Bogue

As somebody who knows a thing or two about capitalising on under-age victories and converting it into senior success, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is understandably cautious about taking on Galway in their own back yard of Salthill tomorrow (Pearse Stadium, throw-in 2pm).

The Errigal Ciaran clubman cited the All-Ireland under-21 successes of 2011 and 2013 by the Tribesmen when he acknowledged how impressive they were against Laois.

"That's been coming a bit, since the under-21 success. People always felt that they should have performed better than they should have over the last couple of years. But as we all know, it takes younger players a while to mature," he said.

"Now they have had a few years of senior experience behind them, you can see that they are growing in confidence and you can see that they have a good mix of people with a bit of experience over the years, along with those new and younger boys."

By half-time of their league opener in O'Moore Park, the game was almost certainly won by Galway, going into the break 2-6 to 0-1 up through Adrian Varley and Damien Comer goals.

With the Corofin contingent on board for the start of the year, the blend hasn't gone unnoticed by Harte.

He admitted: "You can see that there is a good mix. Obviously, Kevin Walsh is back with them. He is a good coach, he did well with Sligo but his heart has always been with Galway."

Harte has not been able to include his captain Sean Cavanagh, nor his vice-captain Peter Harte for the trip to the west, as both are nursing niggling injuries

On a potential return for Cavanagh, Harte said: "We will give him every chance to be ready. But it really is the medical people and himself have to make the final call."

Another win here would leave Tyrone ideally placed for the run of games in March and a promotion push.

Harte said: "It's never good to lose a game early in any league campaign. It just puts you at the wrong end of the table. If you are at the wrong end of the table, then points are harder to come by when you need them at the end of the season.

"I would rather be pointing up towards the top of the table and pushing on from there."

During the week he had a number of players in Sigerson Cup action, with Conor Meyler and Ronan O'Neill, both named to start tomorrow, enduring a sapping time of it as their game for St Mary's against DIT went to extra time.

"There is a certain age group of player that has a lot of demands on him this time of year," said Harte.

"It's only a small window of time that it happens in, so we just have to learn to live with that and hope that we manage to stay injury-free. If we stay injury-free I think we can deal with the fatigue side of it."

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