Tuesday 23 May 2017

Harte calls on counties to throw caution to the wind in fight for Sam

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, centre, chats with Antrim's Liam Bradley, right, and Derry's Brennan at the launch of the Ulster SFC in Belfast yesterday. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, centre, chats with Antrim's Liam Bradley, right, and Derry's Brennan at the launch of the Ulster SFC in Belfast yesterday. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Mickey Harte's initial wish for championship 2011 is obvious -- that Tyrone remain involved until the third Sunday in September. But after that he is much more universal.

Instead of rattling the cages of the GAA over the selective use of video evidence, the absence of a second chance for provincial winners, the presence of over-zealous assessors weighing on the minds of referees or the continued relationship with the AFL, his solemn hope is that people in the association appreciate the games they have.

For Harte, the level of Gaelic football being served up these days is as good as in any era that has gone before.

He also believes it is the duty of managers and players alike to ensure that a defensive-minded team does not win this year's All-Ireland title.

"I would like if people began to appreciate what our games have to offer in this day and age," Harte said at yesterday's Ulster championship launch in Belfast.

"I think a lot of people reflect on what used to be and try to suggest to us now that that's the template we should be working towards. I don't agree with that.

"I think every era has its pros and cons in terms of the product that we serve up. The product that is being served up at the minute is as good as in any era.

"People focus too much too often on the so-called ills of our game or what's wrong with our game. Let's open our minds up and look at the positives because there are lots of good things to be found in any of our games at any level. So, I'd like to hear more about that and less of the nitpicking."

Harte concurs with the assessment that Tyrone have slipped out of the 'top three' in Gaelic football behind Cork, Kerry and Dublin.

And he says there is a responsibility in how the All-Ireland title is won in 2011.

"I think it would be a bad thing for all those involved in the championship if they allowed an ultra-defensive team to win.

"It's up to all of us who feel we should play football in a different way to make sure that an ultra-defensive team doesn't win it."

Harte has managed to convince a wavering Philip Jordan to remain part of the squad in 2011 after he withdrew temporarily during the latter end of the league.

"He did need time to reflect and review. Initially, he was going to play. He had some second thoughts about it and, yes, he did need time to think about it.

"The encouragement of all those around him helped him make up his mind. That's what teams are about. That's what people who support each other are about."

Harte is resigned to being without his most versatile asset Joe McMahon, who sustained a broken jaw in an off-the-ball incident while playing for Omagh in a recent club league match.

Harte said the nature of the injury was "distressing."

"You have to take the rub of the green, so to speak, if someone picks up an injury, that's unavoidable in the course of a game.

"But if it's one that shouldn't really happen, then no one is very happy about that. Unfortunately, these things do happen from time to time.

"A player of Joe's quality and versatility is a huge loss to our team because he is the go-to man."

Irish Independent

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