TYRONE’S capitulation to Dublin in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final rout will take some getting over, but long-serving boss Mickey Harte attempted to muster a few words of positivity after their 12-point defeat.
Harte had to face the inevitable questions from the gathered press corps about his own future as Tyrone boss in the aftermath of one of the darkest days of his long and distinguished career.
In fairness, a frighteningly professional Dublin were a different beast than anything Tyrone had encountered in their deceptively close head-to-head league encounters over the past few years.
This was the real Dublin, a Dublin that practically toyed with the Red Hands.
“We never experienced that in any of our league games over the years. This was a different level,” said Harte.
“They had a different energy and a different drive and that’s something we hadn’t seen face-to-face. We didn’t experience the ferocity they would bring and I have to compliment them.”
The Red Hands were left chasing shadows after an early goal from the prodigiously talented Con O’Callaghan. That set the rules of engagement for the rest of the match and left Tyrone with no real contingency plan.
“If we hadn’t fallen behind by a few points, they wouldn’t have been able to play the ball around as much as they wanted to.
“It was crucial that they got the early scores as they could dictate the terms of engagement. Life was made very difficult after they got the early goal.”
Last year the Tyrone County board rebuffed Harte’s request for a contract extension beyond this season.
However, Harte has made no secret about his desire to remain at the helm in 2018. Yesterday’s defeat hasn’t altered his thinking, although he recognised that other influential figures may not share his opinion.
“I think I’ve made that suggestion many times during the year, I do expect to still be here.
“It’s not in my mind, someone else may do something different and that’s their prerogative to do something different. At this point, I’ve no intention of walking away.”
One Tyrone legend who definitely won’t be back is Sean Cavanagh.
He didn’t get the retirement party of his dreams, but three All-Ireland Senior titles and five All-Stars isn’t bad a consolation, as Harte recognised.
“Sean Cavanagh is with these Tyrone Seniors as long as I am. He’s given so much and has so many accolades to prove his value. He has nothing to regret, we were hopeful to give him another day before he finished his career.
“We haven’t been able to provide that for him. I don’t think he’ll walk away with many regrets, not many people will leave the game with as much as he achieve.”
Posted: 9:50 am August 29, 2017
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