Mickey Harte rues minor details and costly wide count

Mickey Harte has always sweated the small stuff.

Mickey Harte rues minor details and costly wide count

By Brendan O’Brien

Mickey Harte has always sweated the small stuff.

Seemingly trivial, forgotten moments that most of us have forgotten, or never noticed in the first place, routinely pop up in his debriefs after Tyrone games and there was the usual dissection of minor incidents after this six-point loss to the Dubs.

This, after all, is a man who viewed Con O’Callaghan’s early goal in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final through the prism of the argument that the Dublin player should have been 40 yards back towards his own goal tracking Padraig Hampsey at the time.

Little details, as Giovanni Trapattoni would have had it.

It was a similar story yesterday.

The Tyrone manager was left to rue a wide kicked by Cathal McShane in the 18th minute when the challengers were five points to one up — this less than a minute before Dublin navigated the length of the pitch to win a game-turning penalty for Paul Mannion.

His take on the second Dublin goal, scored by Niall Scully seven minutes later, began with the observation that Johnny Cooper had been allowed to play on way out on the sideline when referee Conor Lane had originally called for a free.

These are interesting angles worthy of debate but, while he was sure to add the rider that Dublin were deserved winners regardless of how the dice fell in these isolated snapshots of time, they tend to lose their currency when other exhibits are presented.

Chief among them was a Tyrone wide count that hit 16 by the final whistle. Dublin, by way of comparison, recorded just six. They had just one wayward attempt — a Cormac Costello effort snatched from under the crossbar by Niall Morgan — after the interval.

In fairness to Harte, he took that point well.

That wouldn’t be a small thing, that’d be a bigger thing! That’s so disappointing. Again, you might say Dublin put you under pressure and they don’t give you the shots from the good places.

“That’s true to a degree but we made some very poor choices across the course of the game.

“If we had even taken half of those out of the script then things could have been very different but it’s a learning exercise for our players. Colm (Cavanagh) was the only one on the field today who played in an All-Ireland senior final before.

So there’s a lot of inexperience at this level on our players. They now have that experience. Whether it’s able to be used in the next 12 months, or the next two years or three years, that remains to be seen, but they have a really good experience now that they didn’t have to this date.

Harte and his players have other posers to ponder over the winter.

The skies were darkening by the time Tyrone opted to pepper the Dublin area with long, high balls. That they didn’t do it sooner was, according to Harte, due to the fact they simply don’t possess the players to play that way. They may have to find some.

Still, he remains the eternal “optimist” and there was a certainty in his voice when he suggested that Cavanagh would remain on for 2019, and everyone else with him.

Problem is that Dublin will still be there waiting if Tyrone have designs on another All-Ireland bid.

All those wides demonstrate just how far shy they are of the champions when it comes to patience and game intelligence.

The other chief takeaway from yesterday was the realisation that they had managed to claim just two of Stephen Cluxton’s 31 kickouts.

Add those numbers together and victory was never attainable.

You can try it in a zonal context but they can do things to thwart that,” said Harte.

“You can go man to man and that’s difficult. In the modern game man to man is a very challenging way to try to win the kickout because there’s space created and the team that wants the ball can go to that space at pace.

“If you’ve a good kicker out or a good person who can strike the ball a distance or a short distance, then it’s very hard to come to terms with it.”

Harte concluded. “So, it’s all part of the challenge that’s part of this Dublin outfit.”

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