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Mickey Harte goes on the attack after Tyrone criticism

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has launched a scathing attack on what he terms "the nit-pickers" who he feels are doing football a grave disservice.

And, as steps up his preparations for the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry on Sunday week, he takes issue with the "negativity" which he feels is continuing to blight the sport.

Harte, clearly still perturbed by the ongoing criticism which his side has faced since last week-end's quarter-final win over Monaghan, is anxious to put what happened on that occasion in the past and see a strong focus placed on the forthcoming battle with the reigning All-Ireland champions.

In a clear swipe at the pundits who have been decrying Tyrone's tactics, he also urges that much greater emphasis should be placed on the positives within gaelic football.

"I always believe that in life you can get more of what you look for. If you want to look for negativity and home in on that then certainly you will get lots of it but I would love to think we can be more optimistic and open-minded than that and look for the good that's in our games," asserts Harte.

"It's typical indeed of our games in general where you have lots of nit-picking and fault-finding by people who think that's their brief in life and they don't seem to understand that there is so much good about our games."

"Of course there will be faults, of course there will be things that aren't what they ought to be, but that's life. Nobody's perfect and this is what we are faced with."

"I wish people would just take the good that is going on in our games, highlight that and, okay, acknowledge some things that could be done differently. We'll all agree to that but let's put the emphasis where it best belongs - on the quality that's there."

Following accusations of diving and simulating injury against Monaghan, fears are currently being expressed that his team could face more rigorous refereeing against Kerry, but Harte does not go along with the theory that this will impact on their strategy.

"I don't want to be pre-empting who might be refereeing the game or anything else. I've always said all over the years that all I have sought from referees is consistency," insists Harte.

"I have never looked for perfection because I would not expect that. But I would love to see consistency. As long as any referee is consistent I am happy that he will make mistakes because all of us involved in any particular game will make mistakes."

Given the intense rivalry that exists between Kerry and Tyrone, the role of the referee is now viewed as even more crucial, with GAA chiefs keen to see no repetition of last Saturday.

Director General Paraic Duffy has reaffirmed that the Association is committed to presenting its games in the best possible light and with a massive television audience expected for the semi-final at a packed Croke Park, the desire to see a game that highlights the positives of gaelic football is palpable within the corridors of power.

Harte believes his side is capable of delivering. what he terms as, a "positive performance".

"I believe we can win the All-Ireland title but you have to be realistic too," he says.

"If I didn't believe we could win then it wouldn't be a possibility. In the past we have not been able to back up an All-Ireland title with another one because we did not seem to have the same energy or the same determination to make it happen."

"Sometimes players who have been to the summit just remember what it was like to be there and forget about the hard grind it took to get there.

"There has been a lot of transition within this Tyrone side and I feel we will be able to give a positive performance against Kerry, which should make a good game from every perspective."

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