Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Home Sport GAA

Harte shows no complacency ahead of Tyrone's historic Super 8s battle

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has insisted that nothing can be taken for granted when they and Roscommon become the first-ever sides to contest a Super 8s game on Saturday evening as they get the weekend rolling with a 5pm throw-in.

The Rossies polished off Armagh in a high-scoring thriller last week in Portlaoise, and Kevin McStay's men couldn't have failed to notice how Tyrone's remorseless gameplan, as they blitzed Cork by 16 points, stood as a total contradiction to the previous games' shootout quality.

Of the three other sides in Group 2, Roscommon are ranked lowest, but Harte is playing little heed to that.

"I suppose we can only go on recent history and they played their football in Division Two and now they are Division One," he said.

"So do rankings mean an awful lot? It is very hard to rank anybody after Dublin. We can all rank Dublin as one, and you can rank the other teams in a variety of ways. Roscommon's performance, from what I saw of it, was very impressive as well.

"They have a lot of good footballers from the underage teams over the last number of years and they ran Galway very close for the Connacht title as well.

"They are a very good team, there is no doubt about it - I don't care what division they were playing their football in last year."

Harte has always set out to win his province, but on the occasions they could not land the Anglo-Celt Cup, they have become formidable backdoor opponents, learning things and fine-tuning as they go along.

"If you win and get through to the quarter-finals, then it has been a great experience. But if you were to lose any of those games on the way to it, it's a bad season," reflected Harte.

"You can't be sure which it is going to be. It is the risk factor of sudden death once you lose your provincial encounter, but that's all behind us now and we are where we want to be, into the Super 8s."

This game has come a little too early for Lee Brennan, who limped out of the Ulster Championship defeat to Monaghan with a hamstring strain.

However, Mark Bradley made a return to action against Cork as a sub and scored a goal, while Tiernan McCann and Colm Cavanagh have looked their old selves after recovering from injuries.

"I do feel that when you have been on the qualifier runs, and we have been on many of them, you gain momentum if you keep winning. And you find things out about your team and players that you might not find out in the white heat of the Ulster Championship," commented Harte.

"So it has a benefit that way. And now the fact that it isn't knockout in the last eight is going to be good as well. Because normally it is a do-or-die job. We have had enough of them for a while so it takes a wee bit of the pressure off.

"You would certainly want a result, of course, but it isn't the end of the road if you don't get a result, so that's all good, I think that is all positive."

In the headlining act of Saturday night, Donegal face Dublin, most certainly in Croke Park after the meeting of last week when the county board registered their concern that Dublin get an extra home game than everyone else in the present Super 8s system.

On Sunday, it is the turn of Group 1 to play their matches.

Monaghan finally get tested beyond the limits of the Division Four opposition they faced so far when they come up against Kildare, while Kerry face Galway later in the double-header.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph