Harte's Red Hands clear 'dangerous' first hurdle

Tyrone got back on the winning trail at Pearse Park last night and manager Mickey Harte signalled out two players for special praise afterwards.

Tyrone got back on the winning trail at Pearse Park last night and manager Mickey Harte signalled out two players for special praise afterwards.

Wing forward Peter Harte top-scored in the 1-17 to 0-15 qualifier triumph over Longford, slotting over seven points including one free.

The Errigal Ciaran clubman put in an improved performance from last month's Ulster semi-final defeat to Donegal, earning the plaudits from his uncle Mickey.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, he said: "I wouldn't have agreed with the criticism (Peter received from the Donegal game). Okay, some of his free-kicks weren't great and he had an off-day with that.

"But from open play I thought he was very effective against Donegal and I had absolutely no doubt that he would perform well here tonight.

"He's a good footballer. He plays a lot of quality football and maybe he showed a lot of people tonight just how good he can become."

After taking time out to consider his inter-county future earlier this year, Philip Jordan's appetite for Championship football was there for all to see last night.

Harte was particularly pleased with the form of the Moy clubman, who was the Red Hands' only All-Star winner last year.

"Philly Jordan coming forward from the back-line...he was just as fresh as the first day I ever saw him playing football," he enthused.

"People talk about tired men and tired legs, but Philly is just an example of a man who looks after himself so, so well. His fitness level never drops.

"He's so dedicated to his own preparation. I think he's a great example to anybody who has played football for a long time and wants to look after themselves. Well, just look no further that him."

It was a tough test for Tyrone who were second best in the first half. Brian Kavanagh caused plenty of problems for his marker Joe McMahon, while Paul and David Barden also impressed for an eager Longford outfit.

However, a scoring burst of 1-3 in the opening minutes of the second half helped the visitors hit the front and they did well to avoid a potential upset.

"Everybody told us it would be difficult to get a result here and it certainly proved that right throughout the game," added Harte.

"Longford were in a good position at half-time. They were very prolific with the number of chances they had.

"We had to be at our best to get out of here, and we saw in spells some of our best football."

It was all the more pleasing for Harte considering that players of the calibre of Stephen O'Neill, Kevin Hughes and Martin Swift were late withdrawals due to injury.

Debutant Kyle Coney, one of the players to come in, took his opportunity well with an encouraging display at corner forward, which included an early point.

Harte continued: "We said at half-time that if we didn't win this game in the first ten minutes of the second half, we'd have great difficulty winning it in the last ten minutes.

"Things weren't going our way, decisions were hard to come by. We knew that we had to battle with that, get over it and still get enough scores.

"I'm very, very pleased with the work the players put in and the sheer determination to get out of here with a result.

"The first round of the qualifiers is just like the first round of the provincial Championship, it's fraught with much danger."

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