Monday 19 March 2018

Harte chasing that winning feeling again

Peter Harte of Tyrone. Photo: Sportsfile
Peter Harte of Tyrone. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Bogue

After eight years in a Tyrone jersey, Peter Harte may have a couple of Ulster medals, but he feels he only truly deserves last year's after the epic final ten minutes of their win over Donegal.

And well he might, for it was his point from 50 metres that edged the Red Hands ahead as the game crept into injury-time.

His previous medal came when he was sent on for Brian McGuigan in the 2010 Ulster final for the last ten minutes, but by that stage Monaghan had been routed by a team that sounds from another age now; Kevin Hughes, Pascal McConnell, Ryan McMenamin, Owen Mulligan, Brian Dooher…

No wonder that when he puts his two medals side by side, he feels differently about them.

"In 2010, it was the Tyrone team of the noughties, the treble All-Ireland winners. Now it is all boys of a similar age, maybe there is a different vibe to the team," the 27-year-old teacher admits.

"It was the first time you felt like it was your team, your boys that, at the same age, that you have grown up with.

"In 2010, there wasn't two Tyrone fans on the pitch. Whereas last year was enjoyed more by the fans and maybe that was because we haven't been as successful. There was a big difference in the two experiences.

"The first year was the same feeling within the team as the last year in that we were very hungry to win medals and do well, so we have to look forward to this week, the chance of winning an Ulster title and being champions again."

As well as the fans' reaction, Harte's feelings about last year's final have to be tangled up in the feeling of kicking that incredible late point.

On a scorcher of a day, he got possession around 55 metres from the goal, took a couple of steps and let fly; the ball flew over with another 20 metres to spare in an incredible feat of skill.

Asked about his instincts at the time, his innate humility kicks in: "I think sometimes you go on your feeling on the pitch. Whether it's a pass or a shot or a bit of a play. It's one of those things, once I got it I felt the shot was on and thankfully it sailed over."

The shot itself was a thing of great artistry, with every part of Harte's body moving as he put all his weight behind it.

The next performance is this Sunday, against Down.

While the rest of the Gaelic football world outside of Down felt the earth shift after they beat Monaghan in the Ulster semi-final, Harte felt different based on the evidence he saw first-hand.

"I have played a lot of football with the Down boys in college, Railway Cup over the last number of years," he reveals.

"The Down boys are exceptionally talented. They are real good footballers and it didn't surprise me to see Jerome Johnston, Ryan Johnston and all those lads playing well. Kevin McKernan kicking scores.

"I played with them and have seen them do it. They have beaten Armagh and beat Monaghan and are coming in with good form behind them.

"Hopefully they will not surprise us with their performance because we have seen how good they can be and I am sure they can get even better because that's what all teams are looking to do, to improve upon performances the next day out."

After his first year and that Ulster medal, it took Harte another six seasons to experience Ulster final day as a player. It has rekindled his, and the wider Tyrone public's appreciation of the showpiece occasion.

"They don't come around that easy. Probably my first year on the panel we got to an Ulster final and I thought 'this is the way it is going to be', but five years later I hadn't won it since," he points out.

"You start to realise that it is precious, it is a great place to be and it doesn't come around that often, so you have to take that wee bit of enjoyment in being there."



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Irish Independent

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