Sunday 17 December 2017

'Kerry and Dublin had 14 men behind the ball, but people didn't tend to talk about that'

Paddy Andrews of Dublin is surrounded by Kerry players during the League final
Paddy Andrews of Dublin is surrounded by Kerry players during the League final
Mickey Harte. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Francie Mooney

Mickey Harte has a message for those who claim Kerry and Dublin have saved Gaelic football with a refreshing return to all-out attack - remove those rose-tinted glasses.

The Kingdom defeated the Dubs by 0-20 to 1-16 in a thrilling Allianz Football League final last month, with both sides contributing richly to a Croke Park classic. But Tyrone manager Harte insisted that both based their strategies around disciplined defensive systems that entailed getting men behind the ball in significant numbers.

"I think it's easy for people to come away with that sort of rose-tinted-glasses view of it all. But people want to really look closely at that game.

"On several occasions I saw both Kerry and Dublin with 14 men behind the ball, but people didn't tend to talk about that.

"They could only talk about the scores that they got and about the offensive play they had. So sometimes we are contaminated by some people whose observations are always negative and emphatically negative, and have to put them aside and give them the credibility they deserve and don't give them what they're getting."

As they prepare to take on Derry in their Ulster Championship opener, Tyrone continue to work on their own attacking shortfalls, addressing concerns over a lack of potency up front.

But Harte is encouraged by the 2-10 they racked up in their final league game against Kerry, albeit in a defeat at Killarney.

People will say that alright, but if you score two goals and ten points against Kerry any day, it's not a bad day's return. I think we scored 19 points another day in one of the other league matches. So we can get scores, we can create scores. Even in those games when our scorers didn't return as much as we would have liked, we still had lots of opportunities to score.

"So I think it's just about conversion. You won't convert if you're not creating, we are creating so I think the possibility of conversion is still there."

Harte is also unconcerned at the fact that Tyrone are coming off a run of three straight losses, having seen their NFL title challenge fall apart in the latter part of the campaign.

Defeats to Donegal, Mayo and Kerry ended the Red Hands' hopes of reaching the league final, after they had topped the table going into the latter part of the series.

"I would be happy it has been a good experience for us, not the ideal experience where you'd like to be in the final and obviously love to win it, but still it's a good place to be at this stage," Harte added.

Irish Independent

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