Dublin drubbing hasn’t changed Harte’s approach

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

Mickey Harte says that Tyrone will remain faithful to their footballing principles, despite last year’s crushing All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin.

A new championship challenge begins for the Red Hands this weekend. They will play Monaghan at Healy Park, and their manager has advised the GAA world to expect more of their traditional, counter-attacking style.

“Why would we abandon all that happened before, and think that that’s binned, and this only some kind of reactionary response to what happened against Dublin?

We are building on what we did last year, and we’re keeping very much of what we did last year in our armoury,” he said.

“So, it’s not about because Dublin beat us, we throw out the baby with the bath-water, forget all we’d done and think, ‘this isn’t working’.

“It worked very well for us in four championship matches last year.

“It didn’t work well in one — a very important one, of course — but I can’t separate those things.

“I think that’s all part of what we did last year. There seems to be a very tunnel vision or focus on this particular game, and obviously some people enjoy that focus more than others, and tell you about it often.

“I get confused at how people don’t seem to be able to look at exactly how we played last year.”

Treble All-Ireland-winning attacker, Stephen O’Neill, has been working with Tyrone’s forwards this year. They are hoping to fashion a sharper edge in front of the posts, but Harte is not unduly concerned about his side’s attacking strength.

“We played a lot of attacking football last year. We racked up some wonderful scores, but if you take a game in isolation that we didn’t perform particularly well in, and Dublin caught us early and nailed us and kept us there.

But I certainly wouldn’t forget the good football we played.

During the league, there were indications that the Tyrone boss is prepared to move away from the isolated, one-forward up-front strategy, with all the others expected to forage deep and raid with pace on the break. This year, they have frequently operated with two stationed inside.

But Harte said: “I don’t look at it about who is inside. I look at it that when you have possession, how many people have you in an attacking part of the field, and, to me, that’s a very fluid situation.

“It doesn’t matter whether you have one up, two up, or three up to begin with. It’s how many you have up when you’re in a position to do something about it. So, we look at it in terms of how we play our game, how we create space for ourselves in the attacking zone, and how we win the ball back when we don’t have it, because that’s the first part of the attack.

“You can’t attack if you haven’t got the ball, and if you’re weak at the back and allow people to score at will, then it doesn’t matter how many you have up the field. It might be very exciting and it might be a high-scoring game, but I don’t think you’ll get too many wins.”

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