Monday 19 February 2018

Mickey Harte intends to stay on as Tyrone boss and praises 'superior' Dublin

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Dublin and Tyrone at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Dublin and Tyrone at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

Dublin manager Jim Gavin declared himself satisfied with Dublin’s All-Ireland semi-final performance before a full house at Croke Park.

 “I just think we strived to stay in control for the full expanse of the game,” he said. “We knew that if we gave Tyrone that space they would punish us, which they did at times.

"Overall just happy with the performance over the full 70 minutes, it’s a semi-final, they are there to be won and now we’ve just got ourselves into an All-Ireland final.”

He said he hadn’t had much time to think about the next challenge.

“I haven’t come across Mayo since March I think it was, National League game. We have been on our own journey, that’s where my focus has been on, that path that we are on. And the challenges Tyrone were going to bring for us, that’s where my focus has been over the last number of weeks.”

Mickey Harte, who has completed a 15th season in charge of Tyrone, said he wants to remain on as manager in spite of the set-back. His current two-year term has now expired and last year the Tyrone county board refused to offer him a 12 months extension.

Harte cited Con O’Callaghn’s early goal as critical.  “Until that time, it could have been a bit of a face-off up to half-time, and I think if we had held out to half-time without the goal in the game, we might not have conceded as many points.

“But Dublin were always superior, and particularly after that goal, the game was played on their terms, not ours, and that was not what we set out to do.

"We held out to half-time trying to play the system that we know best, but it wasn’t proving very effective for us, so we had to change things up at half-time, and there’s a great gamble in that.

“It leaves you open to more sufferance at the back, but I can’t fault the players for their effort, and particularly in the second half, we asked them to give it all they had and see where that takes us.

You don’t want to say that you can’t win the game, but the reality of the matter was that it was going to take a miracle turnaround for us to win the game.

“We missed a penalty, various things that would have made the scoreboard more respectable, but it wasn’t going to hide the truth that Dublin were far superior today, and that’s a fact we have to accept.

"And maybe it’s a good insight to know what standard you need to get to now if you want to play at their level regularly.

“It’s the best Dublin team that I have faced in my championship career at senior level. I think you have to give them that now. I wasn’t sure before today if that was the case, but I think I can be quite sure of that now.”

He also paid tribute to Sean Cavanagh who had his last appearance for the county, retiring afterwards. “Sean is with these Tyrone seniors as long as I am, and he was a faithful servant. He gave so much, he has so many accolades to prove his value across many, many spectres of awards.

“He has nothing to regret really, he gave it all he had. We were hoping that he would get another day before he finished his career, we haven’t been able to provide that for him, but I don’t think he’ll walk away with many regrets.

"There’s not many players will leave the game of gaelic football with all that he has achieved, particularly not in Tyrone anyway.”

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