Sport Gaelic Football

Friday 23 March 2018

Harte confident Tyrone 'transition' on the right path

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte demonstrates his hurling skills
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte demonstrates his hurling skills
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

JUST as in the ultimately successful years of 2005 and 2008, Tyrone are going through the back door.

It's a bit earlier than planned as their league displays suggested they had returned to the kind of form that saw them win three All-Irelands in six seasons (2003, '05, '08) and, for parts of their tussle with Donegal, they looked like they might deliver on that billing.

But Mickey Harte insists that his side are still in transition and far less settled than the Donegal team that they fell to for the third consecutive year in Ulster.

"I think you need to add the fact that there's a transition going on in our team which tends to get overlooked because we stayed in Division 1," said Harte, who was speaking at the Dublin launch of a girls summer camp – held in memory of his late daughter Michaela – which will take place in the St Louis Infant School in Rathmines from July 22-25.

"Half of our panel of 34 have come in over the last two years. That's quite a transition in any group of players. If you look at the Donegal team that beat us in 2011, they had 13 of the team that beat us starting this year. We had six.

"So, maybe that tells a bit of a tale too. Maybe that has something to do with the way we're not able to get past them just now."

As they prepare for a trip to Tullamore to take on Offaly tomorrow, Harte reflected on what he saw as the concession of two "elementary" goals that decided that Donegal tie.

"I suppose the biggest disappointment was the two goals we conceded, because they could have been avoided.

"If somebody scores two brilliant goals that are sort of unavoidable, you have to hold your hands up to them."

Offaly's panel has had something of an upheaval and Harte restated his belief that Tyrone can reach the last eight.

"The difference here is that there is no other chance. The focus for Donegal was because they were Ulster champions, All-Ireland champions, a local derby, there were lots of reasons to want to be up for that game.

"But there's a major reason why we need to be up for this game – if you don't win, then the season is over and it's a long time until January and the McKenna Cup."

Irish Independent

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