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Making it to the Super 8s is what counts: Harte

 

By Declan Bogue

Mickey Harte looked like a beleaguered mechanic assessing a banger in the yard as he talked the press through the running repairs he had to do on his team throughout.

"Colm (Cavanagh) had to come out at half-time, Tiernan McCann was not as sharp as we know he can be and you could see that he had not played enough games at this level as he needed to, while Lee Brennan was recovering from a hamstring injury, so those were substitutions we would not normally be making," he said.

"That left us with less of a free hand to do things that we might have done in terms of the bench, but I think we did well to bring it back level at 0-16 apiece.

"It was just a shame that we gave away a needless foul that gave them the upper-hand again and they just rolled on from that.

"They dominated those last minutes of normal and injury time and in the end we were flattered to get back to two points because the goal came when the game was over anyway."

Such was the magnanimity of Harte that it told its own tale as to how comprehensively Tyrone were beaten. The possession stats will surely be interesting.

If anything, the restructuring of the All-Ireland Championships, with three games of a mini-league at quarter-final stage, has meant that while it would be nice to have made it three Ulster titles in a row for the first time for Tyrone, Harte is only concerned about making the Big Dance in the middle of July.

"We wanted to be in the last eight for sure, but we wanted to be there with a cup as well. Our challenge now is to get into the last eight and that is a harder and more unpredictable journey because you don't know who you are going to meet and where you are going to meet them," he added.

It may be shorthand to say that Monaghan had possibly the most influential player on the pitch in goalkeeper Rory Beggan, but pressed if he is the best in his position in Ireland, Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke answered: "(It's) not for me to say. But I will say that Rory works so hard at it. It's a great boost for us that any time we get a free and the ball is set down anywhere from the 45 out, you're thinking this is a really good chance for us. There's not many teams can say that. Rory is a top class kicker, but again he works really hard.

"Look, I'm going to qualify all of this by saying it's the first round of the championship. The last couple of years, we've got to semi-finals and been put out. We'll enjoy today but all it does is get us into the next round. We'll keep the head down and wait for two weeks' time."

He added: "We feel we have a lot of quality and strong panel men. The attitude of the boys is great and there's a really great spirit there. But all of it was enough to get us through today."

O'Rourke will once again come up against his native county Fermanagh and their manager - his former team-mate Rory Gallagher.

He admired what he saw in Brewster Park the night before.

"I thought there was a chance we would win today so I went down to see it," he explained.

"I thought Fermanagh played very well, they were well organised and that was a big victory against Armagh.

"It's going to be a tough game the next day and we'll think of that later on in the week."

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