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Harte is relishing the chance to play part in a new golden era

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has urged GAA followers to dwell on the present rather than reflect on the past as the countdown continues to the start of the Ulster Championship on Sunday.

Harte, whose side do not go into action until June 5 when they face Monaghan, has pleaded for much more emphasis to be placed on the quality of present-day football and suggests that some thinking is still rooted in different eras.

Clearly perturbed by the tendency of many officials and fans in particular to frequently allude to 'golden eras' Harte prefers to make a strident case for the style and skills of the modern game in which higher levels of fitness, intensity, skill, commitment and sportsmanship are, in the opinion of many, encapsulated.

"I honestly believe that the standard of football that is being served up in the province and indeed in the country at the minute is as good as has been on offer in any era in the past. I think that people tend to focus too often and too much on the so-called ills of our game," insists Harte who was among a number of county team bosses present at yesterday's Ulster Championship launch in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.

In an earnest plea to all who claim to have the best interests of the GAA at heart, Harte says: "Let's open our minds to the positives that are contained in gaelic football.

"There are lots of good things to be found in any of our matches at any level and I would like people to look for such things and engage rather less in trying to nit-pick over what they feel is not just so good about it."

And Harte has reiterated his desire to see beaten provincial champions afforded a second bite at the cherry through an extra round of the qualifiers.

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At the GAA Congress in Mullingar, a motion urging that teams beaten in any round of their provincial championships should be afforded a 13-day recovery period rather than the existing six-day period was defeated while beaten champions will still be forced to make their exit without having recourse to 'safety net'.

"I still think that winning the provincial championship is the right way for a team to go. They owe this to themselves, the fans, their officials and sponsors to be the best they can be.

"But I still believe that there is a flaw in the system which denies provincial champions a second chance should they be beaten in their next game," insists Harte.

"And while at the end of it all, provincial champions still have something tangible to show for their efforts in the form of silverware this should not be a reason for excluding them from the qualifiers, they deserve to be treated in much the same way as every other team.

"I will still maintain that this is a marked flaw and I will continue to say this.

"I can only hope that some day someone will listen and say that this format is not right.

"There is a better way - it may not be perfect - of administering this element of the championship."

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