Sports

‘We can be better’ says Harte

Thursday, 10 August 2017

‘We can be better’ says Harte thumbnailTyrone's David Mulgrew scores his first goal in the 3-17 to 0-8 win over Armagh in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championhsip quarter-final in Croke Park, Dublin.

TYRONE manager Mickey Harte is looking for improvements ahead of the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin on August 27.

Even in the context of a massive 18 points win over Armagh at Croke Park on Saturday, Harte was unhappy with many aspects of his side's play.

The Red Hands never looked like losing to their Ulster neighbours, but they were less than fluent during a number of spells of a one-sided game.

They raced into an eight points lead inside the opening quarter of an hour, but even in that dominant period, the manager was unhappy with their execution of the game.

"We have to be grateful to our defence for making sure that they weren't getting scores, but you'd have to say we wouldn't be particularly happy with how we got into that position," he said.

"We stumbled our way into that kind of lead. We didn't play with poise, or play with real quality. We just picked off some good scores, the penalty was significant, and getting that early goal from the penalty meant that there was a good cushion there.

"So we wouldn't have been happy with our first half performance. Yes, the scoreboard was grand for us, and it was a matter of making sure that we kept that gap, that if they got a score, we got one back, and as long as we could win the second half, the game was ours.

"And that's not playing down the thing. We were unhappy with much of our play, and the start of the second half I'm sure was horrible to watch, because it was about who could give the ball away the easiest.

"If they were giving it away, we were giving it back, and they were taking it off us again. And it wasn't even wonderful play that was doing this. It was actually many unforced errors or half-forced errors that was making that happen.

"So that wasn't pretty, and if we were playing against somebody else that had more of a grip on the game, that would be disaster."

Tyrone have won all their championship games by comfortable margins, easily defeating Ulster rivals Derry, Donegal, Down and Armagh, but they face a huge step up in quality when they face the Dubs in what will be their first big test of the summer.

"We can only do what we have done right now. We have done what we have done for these four games in the championship, and it has got us to a decent place, it's the All-Ireland semi-final," Harte said.

"Whether that takes us any further or not, God only knows, but we will be giving it our best shot."

 

Harte admitted he was surprised by the margin of victory over Armagh, but never doubted that his side would win.

"Probably in the end we were (surprised). I still felt we were good enough to have the kind of score difference that we had throughout the rest of Ulster, because I felt that we were in a better place than Armagh were in," he said.

"They were a side that had done very well after losing the first round, and they gained a bit of momentum.

"But you have to look at the reality of it, the reality was that they played their football in Division Three. We played our football in Division One, we would expect to be ahead of them.

"So we did expect to win the game, we did expect to win it with a bit to spare, and that's the truth of the matter."

The memory of last year's agonising quarter-final defeat to Mayo was a driving force for the players, who were determined to make no mistake when they got back to the same stage of the series.

"Well, obviously these things cross our mind as we prepare for the game today," said Harte.

"We were very disappointed obviously to lose in Omagh in that particular game in that year.

"So you have to store those things and bring them to use if you can, but you can't depend on that. You have to have quality players who are prepared to put their body on the line to give you those results.

"No amount of wanting to do that will make it happen, the players have got to go out and do it and make it happen.

"And of course we do know we walked out of here last year at the same stage of this competition, and we were not happy people, because we had put a lot into the year up to that, and we played enough football that day to at least get a second chance, and we didn't get it.

"And that's soul-destroying when you think of the work and time and energy these boys put in to what they're about nowadays.

"Yes, this has been brewing in us for a year, and we're very happy to get back here and give ourselves a chance to be playing football later in August."

After starting the Ulster semi-final and final, David Mulgrew was dropped to the bench for Sunday's provincial derby, but he made defiant response, coming in as a second half substitute to make a spectacular impact with two brilliant goals.

"He's a good young footballer, that's why he has played a lot in the Ulster Championship, and it probably was a bit difficult on him not to start today," Harte said.

"But again you have to look at the contribution Declan McClure made to the Ulster final, and you have to say it's a big thing not to let him start the game today as well.

"So it's horses for courses. Different days, different people do the right thing, and I think that was some response that David Mulgrew gave to not starting the game.

"He looked so energised, he looked so cool, he finished like an out-and-out finisher, and he's much more of an all over the field player. So I'm delighted for him.

"His first goal was the one that really settled this game for us, you didn't even have to panic any more, this was going to be enough to keep them at arms length."

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