| 15.1°C Belfast

Stevenson and Harte set to become best of enemies

Peter Harte has played at both wing-forward and centre-half-back for Tyrone since coming into the side two years ago.

And on Sunday the 22-year-old Errigal Ciaran clubman could find himself dovetailing between both roles when he lines out against Armagh in the Ulster Championship at the Morgan Athletic Grounds.

Harte’s versatility allied to his pace, clever distribution and scoring touch from play and frees have helped to make him a key player in the Red Hands line-up.

“I know that we are being touted as favourites but we are going into the Morgan Athletic Grounds where Armagh will be very hard to beat,” maintains Harte. “Everyone knows the history that there is between Armagh and Tyrone in the Championship over the past 10 years or so.

“We will be going there expecting a fierce battle and I don’t think we will be disappointed. We will be taking a positive attitude, though — our aim will be to do our best and we are really looking forward to the game.”

Harte has been wearing the No 6 shirt for the most part to date this year but this certainly does not impose any restrictions on his movement and influence during the course of a game.

He may ostensibly have a defensive role but he remains one of Tyrone’s sharpshooters, someone whose accuracy played no small part in their elevation to Division One.

With six established players having retired, the Red Hands were not expected to emerge as a vibrant force so early in the year but Harte attributes their almost impeccable record — one defeat in 14 outings — to the fierce competition for places in the side.

“There are a lot of players who have been pushing strongly for positions all along the line and this kept everyone on their toes. We won the McKenna Cup and then got promotion in the league and now we have raised the bar for ourselves,” states Harte.

A student at St Mary’s University College, Belfast he could find himself facing a friendly foe should Michael Stevenson get game time as a substitute for Armagh.

They both share a house in the Holy Lands area of Belfast where Harte confirms that the banter in relation to Sunday’s game has been virtually non-stop over the course of the past month.

“We have completed our studies now and I hope to meet up with Michael after the game on Sunday but for a couple of hours we will be preoccupied with our own counties,” says Harte.

For his part, 21-year-old Stevenson is keeping his fingers crossed that he will see some action — and he is grateful to Harte for his help to date.

“Not only do we share the same house but we’re in the same class at St Mary’s so we see a lot of each other every day,” smiles Stevenson.

“Peter is very modest and the fact that he has not been in the Tyrone side for too long means that he knows where someone like me is coming from.

“I don’t expect him to divulge any trade secrets but he has certainly been giving me considerable encouragement which I greatly appreciate.”

Come Sunday though, all pleasantries will be put to one side.

Belfast Telegraph