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Mayo had the power: Harte

By Declan Bogue

You always knew that in a game of this magnitude, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte was going to get a number of tactical methods just right.

It gave them a handsome four point lead that they frittered away in the closing minutes of the first half and ultimately led to their downfall.

"It's very disappointing for us because I think the players put in a very big effort, particularly in the first half," reflected Harte.

"I would have to say approaching half-time when we were seven-three up, I don't think anybody would have read the script that way. It was just unfortunate from our perspective that we let them back in for three points before half-time, which gave them a position going in at half-time that they probably didn't deserve."

What he could not have accounted for was the loss of three of his on-field leaders; Peter Harte and Stephen O'Neill in the first half, Joe McMahon early in the second, through injury.

The loss of Harte was a disaster, coming so early on. He was chasing a loose pass when Tom Cunniffe came in and cleaned him out in the challenge. It would be hard to find many that felt it was anything but a fair tackle, but Harte commented, "He was instrumental in our gameplan. I think that would annoy me more than anything. He didn't even get a free for something which forced him to leave the field on crutches. There is another anomaly if you like for how we are looking at this game through certain lenses."

Explaining his injury he revealed, "He got hit on the pelvic bone. It affected his nerve, it went right down his leg. He wasn't able to go on. That was most disappointing that that happened to him and later on when Stevie had to go.

"Obviously they are two players at different ends of the spectrum but they were crucial to our performance on the day and we lost them too soon."

The penalty awarded against Tyrone, and one they were denied when it appeared a foot block had been committed, did not merit further comment from Harte who admirably would not criticise the performance of referee Maurice Deegan further.

"Really, I wouldn't be here to talk about the referee's performance, I would like to talk about our players' performances and Mayo players' performances. The referee does what he does, he makes decisions in live time, and you know, they can be judged retrospectively of how accurate those judgments were," he said.

One thing he can be sure of is how this Mayo team have something about them.

"They are different," admitted Harte.

"They had the composure to deal with coming in off huge wins. They found themselves in a different position to what they had been all year and they were able to keep themselves in the game.

"That was a mark of the difference with them. And when they got their opportunity to stamp their authority on the game, they did that too."

James Horan was his usual sober self afterwards. When asked if his team could be the victims of their own success in winning games handsomely he considered the question before delivering his reply in perfect deadpan. "It's alright, though."

Getting down to the nuts and bolts of matters, he said, "We were very poor and very heavy legged. And we were making poor decisions. We were taking the ball into contact and turning the wrong way and losing all the 50/50 balls.

"We started taking crazy shot decisions and missed a couple of 14-yard frees, lost our free taker (Cillian O'Connor, replaced after 11 minutes through injury). So there was a lot of stuff that went wrong. But we kept playing and kept grinding it out and get trying to figure it out."

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