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Tyrone boss Mickey Harte lays down gauntlet to his players

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has challenged his side to be more clinical when it comes to snapping up goal chances for the remainder of their involvement in the All-Ireland Football Championship.

Harte watched his team spurn at least two gilt-edged opportunities against Sligo last weekend and believes that such profligacy will be punished by Monaghan whom they meet in Saturday's quarter-final at Croke Park.

While Tyrone did not concede a single goal in four qualifier victories, they only managed to score two in those games thus precipitating the fear that against the more frugal defences in the closing stages of the competition finding the net might be even more difficult.

"I think we have to become more clinical in availing of our goal chances," insists Harte.

"We had at least two great chances to get goals against Sligo but we failed to take advantage of them. Goals can win games at this high-intensity level of the championship and it's important that we score them when the opportunities present themselves."

While satisfied with his team's build-up play and work-rate, Harte pinpoints what he feels is the necessity for his team to play good football over a longer period of time in Saturday's contest against a Monaghan side that have their sights set on reaching the All-Ireland final.

"There are times when we make bad choices and commit unforced errors and this can be disappointing," asserts Harte.

"They are part of our game at the minute. We have to try and iron out as many of these flaws as we can and add quality to the rest of our play."

His quest for goals could be foiled, though, by a Monaghan defence that may be strengthened by an extra ration of experience now that Drew Wylie is fit again.

Monaghan showed in the Ulster decider that they are well organised, physically strong and adept at defensive covering.

And their manager Malachy O'Rourke is fully aware of the danger that the Tyrone full-forward line of Darren McCurry, Sean Cavanagh and Connor McAliskey in particular will pose.

"Tyrone are known for their defensive resilience but they are also strong up front," insists O'Rourke.

"They have good players who thrive on big occasions and we will have to be at our best to contain them. They are very fit and bring a great work-rate and intensity to the table and we will have to be able to match that at the very least."

O'Rourke's captain Conor McManus believes that Monaghan's Ulster final victory over Donegal has given them added impetus to press on for a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals.

"It's harder when you have to come through the qualifiers but fair play to Tyrone, they have done that with plenty to spare so they will be well up for Saturday's match," states McManus.

"While there is no doubt that the direct route is the way to go, Tyrone will not be in the least fazed by only having a week in which to prepare for this match."

Having overcome Cavan and Fermanagh before Donegal, Monaghan have chalked up three impressive wins and McManus regards this itinerary as a great source of comfort going into this weekend's game.

And he believes the Farney County's bench could have a big part to play against the Red Hands.

"We used the league to get players up to speed and the fact that we achieved this in what was a demanding Division One was a big help to us," reveals McManus.

"We have players back from injury too and hopefully everyone will remain injury-free. When we went in against Donegal we certainly were not favourites and we are definitely not in pole position going in against Tyrone.

"But that in itself provides us with an incentive to rise to the occasion.

"When we met Monaghan in the league, the intensity and atmosphere on that occasion will be a tea-party compared to what Croke Park will be like on Saturday."

Belfast Telegraph


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