Thursday 19 April 2018

That won't be enough to win any serious stuff, warns Harte

Tyrone 0-21 Sligo 0-14

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte
Sligo’s James Hynes in action against Tyrone duo Ronan McNabb and Conall McCann
Tyrone's Peter Harte tries to evade Sligo's Keelan Cawley
Tyrone's Conor Clarke competes for a throw-in against Sligo's James Hynes
Tyrone's Mark Bradley tries to shake off Sligo's Daniel Maye
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

A few minutes after the game had ended and the Tyrone bus was already rumbling away in the bowels of the Cusack Stand.

The panel and backroom team moved like a side in a hurry to get somewhere. They hadn't showered in Croke Park. Instead they were off to start the recovery process and prepare for Monaghan on Saturday evening. There wasn't a moment to be wasted.

It had been pretty routine day in Croke Park for Mickey Harte's side, one that saw them move into the All-Ireland quarter-finals for the 11th time since they were introduced in 2001. In all, it was the county's 24th win out of 29 in the back door.

Harte mused afterwards that his teams tend to thrive in the qualifiers away from the claustrophobic nature of Ulster and that proved to be the case here again.

Apart from David Kelly's opening score, Tyrone were never headed in the game. By half-time, they were winning by double scores. After 60 minutes, they were still winning by double scores after Darren McCurry curled over his eighth and Tyrone's 20th point.

Window dressing

Sligo took the bad look off things from there, scoring four of the last five points, but it was only window dressing.

"That's how it turned out, I suppose," replied Harte when asked if it had been a routine day for his side.

"It was very obvious that Sligo were a much better side than they appeared to be from the Connacht final. We actually studied their game against Roscommon much closer than the one against Mayo to find out their true quality.

"The way things went for them in that Connacht final, it doesn't happen that often. You have to give them credit to have the resolve to come back and make that a very difficult game for us.

"In a way, that made it difficult for us too, because we knew there would be a backlash in them."

Sligo manager Niall Carew declared himself pleased with his side afterwards. In light of their Connacht final mauling to Mayo, he wanted his side deliver a performance more in line with their abilities.

He got that, even when they couldn't get their key attacking triumvirate of Adrian Marren, David Kelly and Mark Breheny into the game for periods.

Still, they had one of the best goal chances of the game after just a few seconds when Pat Hughes' fisted effort was well stopped by Niall Morgan.

Hughes would put in another impressive performance, hitting three points but as Carew admitted afterwards, they needed to take every chance that came their way.

"You have to be more clinical," said the Sligo boss. "Any manager will tell you that when you are playing Tyrone you have to kill the ball.

"We had about 12 short and I'd say they got six turnovers and six scores from that. That kills any momentum you have. We got maybe three scores in a row and then we dropped three short and they got two points from them.

"Even if they went dead, you have an opportunity to set up and attack the kickout when you are on top. When they turn the ball over they come at great angles, that's their game and they are very good at it - and we are not at that level, whether we like it or not.

"You have to take the context of where we are after coming from in terms of the Connacht final to patch things up mentally more than anything.

"I felt the boys did themselves justice in terms of redemption. In terms of winning the game I felt there was just one opportunity in the second half where we could have kicked on.

"It's a work in progress for these lads and the more games they get at this level the better."

Mark Breheny played when Sligo shocked Tyrone back in 2002. On Saturday night, he kicked six points and Carew urged his captain to stay on for another year. The manager confirmed that he himself would be back in 2016.

For Harte and Tyrone, the road opens up ahead. Familiar opponents Monaghan stand in the way of a place in the last four. He believes the seven-day turnaround shouldn't be a problem for his young side, who now have the likes McCurry and Mark Bradley shouldering more and more responsibility.

"I would hope there is more to come because that won't be enough to win any serious stuff," said Harte.

"We need to get better. We are doing some things very well and other things not quite as good as that. Some of our decision-making is just off at vital moments.

"It's the place to be, in August. We feel as confident as anybody going into the last eight that we can have a shot at going into the last four. That's all you can think about at the moment, but we do feel we are capable of that. If you do that then it's not a bad season."

SCORERS - Tyrone: D McCurry 0-8 (3fs, 1 '45'), M Donnelly, S Cavanagh 0-3 each, M Bradley 0-2, C McAlliskey, C Cavanagh, P Harte, R Brennan, N Morgan (f) 0-1 each. Sligo: M Breheny 0-6 (3fs), P Hughes 0-3, A Marren 0-2 (2fs), D Kelly, C Breheny, N Murphy 0-1 each.

Tyrone - N Morgan 8; R McNabb 8, R McNamee 7, A McCrory 7; T McCann, 7 Joe McMahon 6, R Brennan 7; C Cavanagh 7, M Donnelly 8; S Cavanagh 7, P Harte 6, C Meyler 6; D McCurry 8, C McAlliskey 6, M Bradley 8. Subs: C McCann 6 for Meyler (49), P McNulty 6 for Bradley (58), Justin McMahon 6 for J McMahon (60), D McBride for C Cavanagh, R O'Neill for McAlliskey (both 63), C Clarke for Donnelly (65).

Sligo - A Devaney 7, D Maye 6, K Cawley 6, R Donovan 7; E Flanagan 7, B Curran 6, B Egan 7; S Gilmartin 7, C Breheny 7; N Ewing 7, M Breheny 7, N Murphy 6; A Marren 6, P Hughes 8, D Kelly 7. Subs: K McDonnell 6 for C Breheny (34), J Hynes 6 for Gilmartin (56), C Davey 6 for Ewing (58), L Bree for Maye (63), K Sweeney for Hughes (69).

Ref - R Hickey (Clare)

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