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Harte warns Tyrone face 'serious challenge' against Mayo

By Declan Bogue

Ahead of Tyrone's All-Ireland semi-final showdown against Mayo this Sunday, Red Hands manager Mickey Harte has warned that they face an enormous task in the wake of Mayo's 4-17 to 1-10 destruction of All-Ireland champions Donegal.

It will be only the second time both sides have met at the semi-final stage - Tyrone won the previous meeting in 1989. 

Harte has warned that Mayo have never had a fear of Tyrone, citing their 2004 quarter-final win over the Red Hands while they were reigning All-Ireland champions as evidence.

"Mayo have always been a formidable side," began Harte.

"Outside of Kerry, they have a good record against everybody else at some stage. They don't always beat everybody else but they have beaten Dublin, they've beaten Cork, Donegal, and they have beaten us in 2004."

He continued, "They are capable of beating anybody in the Championship, but they seem to have some issue around Kerry and they might have a chance to sort that out this year!

"But they never would have been afraid against us, they believe they could always play good football against us and I think that the year we beat them (2008) they could easily have won the game; there was only a point in it at the end and they missed a goal chance that might have won the game for them."

The game on Sunday, which is expected to house an attendance of over 50,000 spectators according to GAA officials, has almost been totally overshadowed by the debate raging since Sean Cavanagh pulled down Monaghan's Conor McManus in the quarter-final, with Harte responding in defence of his player, "It does not befit what that man has gone through for Tyrone and for Gaelic Games for the last eleven, 12 years. That’s awful, that’s a pity."

However, a place in the showpiece day of the All-Ireland final awaits the winners against either Kerry or Dublin.

Tyrone's run through the backdoor this season has been similar to that of 2008, when they also lost in the first round of Ulster and came back to win the All-Ireland.

Harte feels that should the cards fall right for Tyrone, they have a chance of repeating that feat; "When things happen for a team, lots of things have to fall into place. It's not often that happens but sometimes when it does, you have to seize that opportunity as well. We seized the opportunities that came our way in 2008."

He finished: "To date, we have done ok, but it is a serious challenge in front of us."

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