Harte proud of his players after victory over Dublin
By John Harrington
Tyrone have suffered a lot at the hands of Dublin in Croke Park in recent years, most notably in last year’s All-Ireland Final, so their manager Mickey Harte’s satisfaction after Saturday night’s win over Jim Gavin’s team was understandable.
His team were committed, tactically very well set-up, and possessed a real cutting edge in attack throughout that Dublin just couldn’t cope with.
But as much as he was pleased with the win, Harte was also keen to remind everyone that Dublin will be a different animal come the Championship.
“It's definitely very satisfying, I suppose we all know that we're not meeting Dublin at their peak at the minute,” said Harte. “That's a fact of life.
“It appears like the League didn't matter as much to them this year as in previous years. They have enough titles now to be happy with.
“We wouldn't get carried away and think that we're beating Dublin at their best.
“But we beat Dublin in a way that we haven't done in a long time, so it's very satisfying when you can take on Dublin even with some players unavailable, et cetera, et cetera.
“It was a battle from start to finish and that was the good thing about it - we were in that battle from the start and we withstood an early goal that should have rocked us and would have in the past.
“I think that was the big thing today, we didn't let that upset us too much, we just rolled up our sleeves and fought back and I think the players got the reward they deserved because they put in a serious effort there tonight.”
Tyrone are often accused of being a one-dimensional team that relies too heavily on a running game, but this win will have silenced many of those critics.
They played Mattie Donnelly and Cathal McShane in a two-pronged full-forward line, and made the most of that duo’s physical abilities by regularly kicking in nicely weighted long-ball.
They scored a combined 1-7, with two of McShane’s points coming from well taken marks.
“When you have players of that stature up front, of that physicality, and that ball-playing ability, then you like to give them ball,” said Harte.
“There's no point in being up there and not getting any ball. Now, again it's about getting that sense of balance.
“If you kick every ball in then after the first three or four were quite successful, Dublin were more conscious of it and cut out a number of them, so again it's about picking the right time to kick and the right time to run and about mixing your game up a bit.
“I suppose we've been known as a running team for a few years now, and we do need to bring a bit of variety to our game and perhaps this is one way of doing it.”
Tyrone’s win was all the more impressive considering they were reduced to 14 men for the final 25 minutes of the match after Niall Sludden’s second-half dismissal for yellow-card and black card offences.
“I think the players sort of smelt victory at that stage and they didn't want to let anything take it from them,” said Harte.
“They put in a serious shift and with 10 or 12 minutes to go, or 15 or 16 with the way added time is, it was a big loss because it was a very tight battle but I think everyone just put their shoulder to the wheel and they really put their body on the line tonight.
“That was great, I asked them to play with a bit of passion here, and I certainly got that back and I couldn't but be anything but very proud of the way the players performed tonight.”