TYRONE manager Mickey Harte hopes that the newcomers to his squad will absorb the lessons from Wednesday’s dour struggle against Fermanagh in the Dr McKenna Cup.
The Red Hands eventually prevailed in a scrappy contest at Healy Park 0-10 to 0-4 and will now face Derry in the semi-final this Sunday in Armagh. However it was a hugely frustrating evening with Tyrone failing to register a score from open play until after the 45 minute mark, as they toiled to penetrate the massed Erne defensive ranks.
While acknowledging the lack of entertainment value, Harte felt the rookies in his squad will have found it a hugely productive exercise.
“It was a bit of a war of attrition I’m sure in most people’s eyes and for the first 35 minutes anyway it wasn’t pretty. Fermanagh came with a particular plan and they played it how they had prepared obviously. It was difficult to break them down and we didn’t help ourselves by getting turned over too often.
“ But they (newcomers) are going to have to face this type of opposition and these sort of game plans and tactics at different times in the Ulster Championship particularly. When you face Ulster teams early in the year in the McKenna Cup or league they tend to be these sort of ‘face-off’games. So players need to have these sort of experiences dealing with teams who are hard to break down.”
Tyrone accounted for Derry pre-Christmas in their first group game by nine points but the Red Hand boss is expecting a much tougher assignment this time around.
“ Obviously Derry have picked up their form since we played them before Christmas. They have had two very good results since that so they are not going to be the same Derry team we played before. We have to ready for a more competitive game.”
Harte also warned that time was running out for players to catch the eye of the management with a cull of the County sqaud now imminent ahead of the National League.
“ The people who have come in have shown that they can compete at this level but the problem is that we can’t keep everybody and we have too many at the moment. There will be a few choices to be made when the McKenna Cup is over and that is unfortunate in one way and positive in another in that we have that many people knocking on the door to be in the panel.”