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Harte hails big contribution from substitute's bench after storming second half

By Declan Bogue

Mickey Harte and Tyrone have faced many tests and been badly exposed at this ground, and it appeared that they were going to be architects of their own downfall again after they gave away a cheap goal prior to half-time.

"It was a sucker blow all and it was difficult," admitted the manager. "But there was still a resilience in the changing room. We knew that this was not 'throw in the towel' time, this didn't need to be like it was here a few times before, we could change the script. The boys were very, very resilient in their attempts to do that."

He acknowledged the staggering contribution off the bench. "There are people who didn't start the game today who are worthy of being on the team but they are also big enough to play for the team and come in knowing that they're going to make a difference," he said.

"If you started them, you wouldn't be sure that the people that you would be leaving off could come in and make the same impact."

A storming second half shows that there is a maturity to this team, the All-Ireland Under-21 winning team of 2015 finally blending with the more established players to produce a dangerous beast, capable of making an All-Ireland final for the first time in a decade.

And just like it was in 2008, and 2005 for that matter, they could do it through the qualifiers system. Granted, this was their eighth Championship game since May 20 and has offered them the opportunity to stumble upon what doesn't work and what really, really does.

"Yeah, we have some kind of capacity to do that. I would not like to be depending on it, I would like to still win a few Ulster titles and go through the front door but there is something about it that our team seems to embrace," Harte said.

"They don't get too annoyed about the defeat they have suffered and they tend to learn from it and now they have learned from two defeats and we are still playing so that is all good."

He stopped short of stating they are in much better shape than when they first faced Monaghan this summer, adding cautiously: "I hope that is the case but I have no doubt that is the case for Monaghan too.

"They have not been standing still from that time, they have found out things since then as well and were on the same journey as us only one round later. So I think we are coming into this on the same front. Both of us have improved from that championship match but they were ahead by five points (they won by two) at the end of that so we have ground to make up on them."

Declan Bonner could be happy with his first year in charge, with an Ulster title in the bag, but when the dust settles, this will hurt.

"We are disappointed - it is a very disappointed dressing room in there. There are a lot of young players in there and I'm sure they will learn a lot from it," he said. "We will sit back and analyse the situation but yeah, from our point of view it has been a very good season."

He added: "You set your targets and set your goals, but at the same time when you come into this game, this game was winnable, we had no fear.

"If we played to the level we knew we were capable of doing, and avoided those mistakes in terms of getting turned over you had a big chance, and ultimately that's what let us down."

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