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Harte: We can't take foot off the gas now

 

Winning ways: Mickey Harte is keen to maintain momentum
Winning ways: Mickey Harte is keen to maintain momentum
John Campbell

By John Campbell

The notion that Tyrone will not be unduly perturbed should they lose their forthcoming Super8s game against Dublin now that they have already qualified for the All-Ireland semi-finals has been brushed aside by manager Mickey Harte.

His team have been in constant action over a recent five-week spell which has seen victories recorded over Longford, Kildare, Cavan, Roscommon and Cork, but Harte is now keen to see this sequence of success extended when Jim Gavin's all-conquering Dublin breeze into Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday week.

The triple All-Ireland-winning boss is anxious that his side should maintain their momentum and vibrancy as they target a place in the final.

The Red Hands have not looked back since their Ulster Championship semi-final defeat to Donegal and now there is the titillating prospect that the sides could renew their rivalry at the All-Ireland semi-final stage.

As things stand, Donegal and Kerry share top spot in Group One of the Super8s, with Declan Bonner's side due to meet Mayo in Elvery's McHale Park, Castlebar on Saturday, August 3 (6pm) while Kerry will take on pointless Meath at Navan on the same date at the same time.

With the side that finishes top in Group One due to meet the side that finishes second in Group Two in the semi-finals, and the side that finishes top in Group Two scheduled to meet the runners-up in Group One, the scope is there for two mouth-watering fixtures.

But Tyrone boss Harte is looking no further than his team's meeting with Dublin.

"We will now have a break in the lead-up to this fixture, which is good given that we have been on the road for a number of weeks now," pointed out Harte.

"We have home advantage against Dublin and it will be a very interesting game. We have certainly seen plenty of action since the Championship season started back in May so the aim will be to maintain our momentum."

Harte's decision to amend his team at half-time against Cork last Sunday proved a masterstroke, with Richie Donnelly, Michael Cassidy and Padraig Hampsey simultaneously introduced for Brian Kennedy, Darren McCurry and Hugh Pat McGeary.

With Tiarnan McCann and Connor McAliskey also summoned into action for the last quarter, Harte now finds himself confronted by interesting selection posers as he contemplates his starting side to face the Dubs.

He is emphatic, though, in pinpointing what he views as the towering spirit and total dedication within his squad as the countdown to the All-Ireland decider gains in intensity.

"You win together and you lose together, but the important thing is that we stick together," observed Harte.

"I think this is the key thing. When we were put out of the Ulster Championship, we had hoped to get a decent run in the qualifiers and maybe get into the Super8s.

"We are where we are at this point and our aim must be to take things on from here."

Meanwhile, the Monaghan and Derry county boards are currently preparing to undertake an overview of the year now that their teams' Championship involvement has ended.

It's understood Monaghan's options are open regarding a new boss, although one or two former managers have been mentioned already, while in Derry, current Under-20 chief Mickey Donnelly is viewed as the favourite to succeed Damian McErlain.

Derry gained promotion from Division Four, but after falling to Tyrone in Ulster and beating Wexford in the qualifiers, they then lost to Laois.

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