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Harte still has a strong hunger for more Red Hands success

 

By John Campbell

His team may have secured their position in Division One of the Allianz Football League for another year but manager Mickey Harte has no intention of taking his foot off the accelerator as he begins to focus more strongly on what he hopes will prove to be a fourth consecutive Ulster title.

But while an extension of provincial dominance becomes a priority, Harte has more immediate worries as he prepares for Sunday's last league game against Kerry at Healy Park, Omagh.

Hugh Pat McGeary, Mark Bradley, Ritchie Donnelly and Ronan McNamee are expected to be out of the reckoning because of injury while Padraig McNulty may be unavailable because of the red card he received in last Sunday's win over Mayo.

Yet despite the fact that his selection options have been somewhat trimmed, Harte remains upbeat as he gears up for what will be his 13th league confrontation with the Kingdom as a manager.

Like Tyrone, Kerry have collected six points to date but manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice is under pressure to elicit rather more convincing performances from his side.

They overcame struggling Kildare by 0-19 to 0-14 at the week-end without reaching any great heights and will come face to face with a Tyrone side which has landed successive victories against Kildare, Donegal and Mayo.

It's in rather sharp contrast to the manner in which they lost their three opening ties against Dublin, Galway and Monaghan - defeats, indeed, which sparked debate about possible relegation.

But Harte has turned his team's fortunes around and now they are playing with a spring in their step.

Harte has used 30 players over the course of the league and despite the odd defection from the panel, he still has rich resources at his disposal.

Tyrone spokesman Eugene McConnell makes it abundantly clear just why the team has slipped into a comfortable groove.

"I believe the team are playing with a better rhythm and more cohesion now. In the earlier stages of the league we were maybe not taking advantage of enough of the scoring chances we were creating but that has changed now. While the side has undergone changes, there is a better balance to it now and there is obviously reason for optimism," explained McConnell.

Victory over Kerry on Sunday in Healy Park could possibly see Tyrone finish on level points with Monaghan, something that might not have been deemed possible a few weeks ago when the Red Hands were struggling to discover a settled pattern of play.

"I think the players have shown that they really want to continue to be involved in the top tier and this was particularly evident in the win over Mayo last Sunday.

"There was a commitment and passion there that spoke volumes for the side and I am sure they can replicate that this Sunday," added spokesman McConnell.

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