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Mickey Harte keeps the faith that Tyrone can still lift Sam

By John Campbell

Now that their dream of winning a third successive Ulster title has been torpedoed Tyrone have already focused their energies on collecting the Sam Maguire Cup for the fourth time.

Manager Mickey Harte has lost no time in flashing out a reminder that the Red Hands enjoyed triumphant voyages through the Qualifiers in 2005 and 2008, but has also acknowledged that they face a particularly difficult journey this year.

Yet he still retains an inherent belief in his side - a belief that others thought might have been tarnished when he was forced to substitute several members of his tried and trusted brigade in the second half of Sunday's shattering Ulster semi-final defeat to Donegal.

"These Tyrone players worked very hard to try and get into an Ulster final. We play this game to be winners so it was devastating to lose to Donegal. But we will be back - our whole focus now is on Longford on Saturday week," declared a defiant Harte.

And the triple All-Ireland-winning boss insists that pride and desire will continue to underpin his side's quest for glory despite Sunday's setback.

"We may have lost this match to Donegal but we have not lost our pride or desire. We are still hungry for more success and we hope to achieve this through the Qualifiers which have been good to us in the past," declared Harte.

When Tyrone lost to Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-final last year (1-15 to 0-13) they shot 16 wides having enjoyed bountiful possession during the course of the game.

It was very much a case of déjà vu at the weekend - Tyrone hit nine wides with seven of these in the first 40 minutes of the game.

What made defeat more galling for Harte and his management team was that some of the misses came from what were perceived to be very good scoring positions.

"We actually led by 0-6 to 0-1 at one stage but we did not push on from there. The fact that Donegal managed to get back into the game just before the break when they got three scores helped them. This put just two points between the teams at half-time," admitted Harte.

His top priority will now be to elicit greater accuracy from his players when it comes to shooting. He has always made it clear that he regards virtually every player as a potential scorer and was not prepared to point the finger of blame after Sunday's outcome.

"We knew that scores were going to be rather harder to come by in the second half against Donegal and then when they got their noses in front they threw the blockade up," admitted the Tyrone boss.

His side scored just three points in the second half with one of these coming from a free.

"We have to be more prolific when it comes to taking our chances, that's the bottom line," asserted Harte.

Several of Tyrone's more established players have already vowed to make amends for the defeat against Donegal when they embark on their Qualifiers campaign.

Long-serving centre-half-back Conor Gormley (30) was particularly disappointed that the Red Hands failed to sustain their bid for a third consecutive Ulster title.

"We created plenty of chances but did not take enough of them. We still have confidence in our own ability. The fact that we are creating chances is a good sign - we must be more clinical in our finishing," said the Carrickmore clubman.

And he is convinced that Tyrone have the necessary firepower to remain in the hunt for the 'big one'.

"We still have some great players - people like Sean Cavanagh, Stephen O'Neill and Marty Penrose - and if we can get them on the ball we will cause any defence plenty of problems," added Gormley.

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