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Harte relishing tougher challenges lying ahead

By Kevin Kelly

Tyrone are gaining momentum in the qualifiers and on the evidence of Saturday's second-half display at Semple Stadium, they could very well have a major say in the All-Ireland Championship before the summer is out.

Granted the opposition is set to become a lot tougher than Tipperary but the signs are there that Mickey Harte's charges have the belief they can match any side on their day.

The Red Hands only led by a point at the break and just before the sides left the field for half-time, a scuffle broke out and it looked as though Tipp had them ruffled. It only served to galvanise Tyrone though, and in the second half it was one-way traffic with the visitors outscoring their opponents 0-12 to 0-1 while playing some fine football and Harte is looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

"As you keep progressing through the qualifiers you ought to meet better teams and that's the nature of the sport and we hope as we move through it we will get better as well and if we get better then it doesn't matter who we meet, we should be up for the challenge," said Harte.

"We weren't very happy at half-time. We weren't very efficient with the ball up front and on too many occasions the last pass wasn't good enough.

"We had a lot of unforced errors which meant that we were in a difficult place at half-time. I suppose Tipperary would have been happy because technically we had the breeze in the opening period so in the second half they would have felt that they were going to do a lot better.

"Tipperary were looking to measure themselves against a side who used to be at the top and by the break they were measuring themselves very well.

"We started the second half well, getting the scores that we hadn't been taking in the first half, and we opened up a bit of a gap and I think we played with more composure.

"We didn't make as many mistakes in the second half and our football was more controlled and I think that helped us as we had more patience in our game and I think the patience paid off."

Tipperary had Liam Casey red carded at the three-quarter mark but by that stage the result was already not in doubt and Tyrone took the opportunity to use their full quota of substitutes.

"The players who are training as hard as anybody else and not getting game time can become a bit frustrated so it was good to be able to give a few of them some valuable Championship minutes," stated Harte.

"Thankfully the squad of players that we have are very patient and when they get their chance they seize it and a number of our players showed that they are very valuable and when we needed to introduce fresh faces they put their hands up."

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