The Tyrone boss won his sixth McKenna Cup title in nine years on Saturday night with an emphatic victory over Monaghan and feels it’s vital his youthful team mark their return to Division One this season already clutching a first senior medal.
“We know we’re going into a very tough league competition but I’d rather be going in as a winner rather than someone who can’t win in this competition,” claimed Harte.
“We haven’t played a lot of division one teams yet, and you have to be mindful of that. But we have played a lot of competitive games and the young boys will have that experience and have that experience of winning a final.”
In a team barely recognisable from their last All-Ireland win in 2008, the individual displays of Ronan McNamee, Mattie Donnelly and Conor McAlliskey, allied to the assured brilliance of man-of-the-match Stephen O’Neill and Sean Cavanagh, warmed Harte’s heart on a miserable night at the Athletic Grounds.
“I think it’s always good to win games and it’s even better to win trophies,” he said. “There are only four potential trophies that a senior inter-county team can win and this is one of them.
“Other ones might be more difficult to win, but if you can get young players used to winning things, then you want to keep that mentality right with them.”
Monaghan were reduced to 13 men but the game was already over as a contest by the time defenders Ronan McNally (straight red) and Dessie Mone were sent-off in the dying seconds of each half.
Mindful of the two Ulster final defeats they’d suffered against Tyrone in ‘07 and 2010, Monaghan came with huge purpose and intensity and made all the running in the first 20 minutes.
Kieran Hughes’ 12th minute goal, when he swung his left boot through a sea of bodies in the square, helped put them 1-3 to 0-3 ahead as Tyrone laboured with a gale-force wind at their backs.
But once Tyrone got to grips with the tempo of the tie, their forward power was devastating.
They won the match in a 10 minute spell before half-time when they outscored Monaghan by 2-4 to 0-1.
Peter Harte, who switched from full-forward to wing-forward, was involved in the build-up to both goals with Mark Donnelly and O’Neill applying the finishing touches in the 29th and 35th minutes respectively.
Tyrone led 2-7 to 1-4 at the break, before McNally was dismissed on a straight red card for a reckless challenge against Peter Harte.
Although Monaghan had the wind in the second-half, Tyrone played a measured, clever game and further goals from Donnelly (39) and a Harte penalty after Mone hauled him to the ground and got sent-off, further cemented their dominance.
“It was a tough game, there was nothing given there handy, you had to work for it,” said Harte.
“Nobody goes into a final not wanting to win it, so the new players have got something they wouldn’t get in an in-house match, and I hope they use that experience well.”
TYRONE: N Morgan; A McCrory, C Clarke, C McCarron; R McNamee (0-1), Joe McMahon, D McBride; P Kane (0-1), S Cavanagh (0-1, f); T McCann, P Harte (1-1, pen and f), Mattie Donnelly; C McAlliskey (0-3), S O’Neill (1-3, 2f), Mark Donnelly (2-0).
Subs: Justin McMahon for Clarke (30), R McKenna for McNamee (51), K Gallagher (0-1) for McCann (54), M Penrose for O’Neill (62), B Tierney for McBride (67).
MONAGHAN: M Keogh; R McNally, F Kelly, K Duffy; D Mone, D Hughes (0-2), M McElroy; D Clerkin, O Lennon; O Duffy (0-2), P Finlay (0-4, 4f), S McQuillan; K Hughes (1-1), C McManus (0-1, 1f), D Malone.
Subs: S Smith for Malone (10), G Doogan for McQuillan (40), N McAdam for Clerkin (42), C Galligan for McElroy (52), P McArdle for Finlay (59).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).