Thursday 23 November 2017

Harte keen to maintain winning habit with Armagh scalp

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has moved quickly to dispel the theory that his side will drop down a gear now that promotion to the top tier of the League has been secured.

As he prepares to renew rivalry with familiar foe Kieran McGeeney when Armagh come to Healy Park on Saturday night looking for Division 2 lifeline, Harte issues a stark warning that underlines his ambitions.

"We have won five out of five and this represents a really good start to the season for us," reflects Harte. "While being back in Division 1 could be said to be the icing on the cake, the important thing now is to build further on our winning habit."

After this weekend, Tyrone will complete their regular League programme by visiting Fermanagh on Sunday and Harte sees these two games as an opportunity for his side to signal their Championship intent.

"You can't depend on younger players to win the game for you nor can you depend on the older legs which have been round the block many, many times. They can't give it to you all the time," Harte observes.

"So, we are very fortunate to have a middle blend of players who are rapidly maturing to become serious leaders within the side. I think we are moving in the right direction in terms of getting the right balance."

Ronan O'Neill and Conor Meyler are fitness doubts.

McGeeney, meanwhile, has more pressing concerns as he strives to plot a survival course for his beleaguered Armagh side.

"We have two tough battles ahead of us against Tyrone and Derry. Tyrone are already promoted but we know they won't be taking their foot off the accelerator," insists McGeeney,

"Yet these are the kind of games that Armagh need to be in if they are to progress further.

"I genuinely believe we have good players in our side like Joe McElroy, Shay Heffron and Stefan 'Soupy' Campbell and it's a question of getting the right overall mixture and attitude."

l The EirGrid Leinster U-21 football final has had to be moved from Portlaoise on Wednesday week "due to remedial work taking place on the pitch at O'Moore Park." It will now take place in Navan on Saturday week.

Irish Independent

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