Sport Gaelic Football

Monday 23 October 2017

Harte: No SOS to our retired stars

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

TYRONE football boss Mickey Harte insists none of his former stars who retired over the winter were asked to return to the panel.

Some mainstays of the Tyrone for the past decade like Brian Dooher, Philip Jordan, Enda McGinley and Kevin Hughes all hung up their boots after the 2011 campaign.

Brian McGuigan also stepped away from the squad but made his comeback in the narrow Ulster championship defeat to Donegal. Harte says that the Ardboe clubman had walked away from the panel due to personal circumstances.

But, according to Harte, none of the other players who walked away from the squad had been approached even as his squad was hit with a raft of injuries to players like Sean Cavanagh, Kyle Coney, Tommy McGuigan and PJ Quinn. "That's a bit of a myth that's out there in the public domain," Harte said at the launch of eircom's new supporter initiative which offers them the chance of winning some match tickets on experiencemore.ie.

"Everyone else who made the decision to retire were left with that decision and we respected that because they did actually state that they retired and that they were leaving the team.

"But we never consulted anyone about a comeback. In fact, Brian made it known to us that he would be interested in committing again.

"We didn't do that and we wouldn't because we wanted to respect the boys who had put in the work all winter. We didn't want them to think that four or five boys who retired were going to come in and challenge for their place. That wouldn't be fair.

"Brian McGuigan was a special case. When we spoke to the players who were considering retirement, he never actually used that word and deliberately so.

"The door was always open and he indicated to us that he was in a position to take that up.

"He's a quality player, he has an innate skill that you don't coach. He's a special talent. He's obviously not a 70-minute commitment at this stage but to have him for 20-25 minutes is very valuable because he can unlock defences and he has the ability to turn a game."

Harte welcomes back Davy Harte and Justin McMahon to the squad this weekend and they are fit to play some part in Saturday's Qualifier clash with Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park.

And the Tyrone boss is expecting a much different game to the cagey encounter they narrowly lost to Donegal.

"We'd anticipate that it just won't be as tactical. There's not many teams that you set up against in the same way you do against Donegal.

"They have set out the way they are going to play football and teams have to adapt to that. Every team has is own way and you have to adapt."

The sides met in the final round of Qualifiers in Croke Park last year with Tyrone running out easy winners, though Harte believes Roscommon caused them more problems than the final score suggests

"We were somewhat flattered by the end result last year. We got a goal in the second half from Sean Cavanagh and Mark Donnelly got the third goal which put a shine on the score that we didn't deserve.

"So we're aware of the Roscommon ability to get scores against us so we have to be on our guard. It's a year on and both teams have changed to some degree.

"I know there'll be six or seven different players on our team that will be different and that's inside the last 12 months for us, believe it or not. So it will be a new game ultimately."

"(The Armagh result) is a mark of the progress that Roscommon have made in the last couple of years. They have had a few setbacks along the way but generally their trend has been upwards over the last few years and you have to respect that."

Irish Independent

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