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Harte happy with Tyrone's combination of young guns and old guard

By Declan Bogue

Naturally, Mickey Harte was not going to give anything away. He had just been asked if the squad he has assembled for the January competition was picked with a certain style of mind to deal with Donegal further down the line.

With a grin, he delivered the line: “I'd say, watch this space.”

He can be pleased with how the evening went.

It was a character-forming win for a raft of new faces, and there were echoes of the footballing ghost of Brian Dooher in how Kevin Gallagher — another player from the lower leagues — patrolled up and down in the number 10 jersey.

It was the familiar figure of Sean Cavanagh though that drew the plaudits.

He weighed in heavily on the scoreboard and engineered two comebacks when it appeared that Derry were the superior team.

“We knew what we were missing and I am not sure if the rest of the country appreciated that,” said Harte of the Moy midfielder. “But we knew what we were missing all season.

“At the important part of the season, Ronan O’Neill and Kyle Coney as well, they were serious target men and finishing men and you can see what having just one of them back there today does. Sean Cavanagh is a super player and he can get you big scores when you need them.”

Harte added: “You know what Sean Cavanagh is made of anyway, he just slots back in again.

“He works hard, he recovers from injury because he works very hard at it and when he comes back you know he is in good shape.

“All he is short is a bit of match practise and it did not take him long to get up to speed there today. I thought he was superb.

“A big player gets you important scores and at important times and that is Sean Cavanagh.”

It wasn't a perfect performance, but then again, such a thing does not exist.

Nevertheless, Harte was happy with his lot in the final analysis.

“We would be very pleased with how it turned out,” he said.

“There were times when we looked ragged enough and there were times when we looked quite good.

“It was important to come good at the right time and the right time was at the end of the game.

“Derry had more game time behind them than we had because they had played a number of challenge matches and we have not been doing that so it was very good to get that result considering how much practise they had ahead of us.”

Derry manager Brian McIver had asked his players for a result, but more importantly a performance.

On his own talent search within the county, the manager said: “You can look good at club level, but you really only know how good a player is at county level whenever you see them in a game like that.

“And that was one hell of a game for the sixth of January.”

He may have been on the end of bad luck, but can be well pleased with the effort on display.

“They got the wee break,” he said of the late goal.

“Probably the fellow was going for a point, and everybody thought the ball was wide, and it ends up in the back of our net.

“These things happen, and it’s something that we will have to talk about, the ball is never out until it’s dead — and it wasn’t dead until it was in the back of our net.

“But from our perspective, the lads came out here today and made a real go of it, played some good football, and I thought we worked some great scores,” he added.

Belfast Telegraph


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