Harte: New system gives 'extra incentive' to win provincial title

The introduction of the Super 8s will make it extremely difficult for any county to win the All-Ireland title through the qualifiers, Mickey Harte believes.

The Tyrone boss last night warned that a gruelling slog through the back door, followed by a series of round robin ties in the new format, would be just too demanding.

Speaking at the Tyrone pre-championship press night at Garvaghey, the treble Sam Maguire Cup winning manager said: “There’s an extra incentive to try and go through the front door. This is definitely adding a lot of degree of difficulty to the qualifying route.

But that doesn’t change an awful lot. I have always said I would rather be winning the provincial title than going any other way, because it is something that you can anticipate.

Harte flagged up the degree of uncertainty that the Qualifiers bring, with fixtures at short notice up and down the country, making a provincial run all the more appealing.

“You can project what’s happening, you know who you’d be possibly against if you were to win. You know the dates that it’s going to happen.

“When you head the other way, you don’t know what part of the country you’re going to, you don’t know for sure who you’re going to meet.”

Harte also welcomed a new Ulster Council ruling which means any team which is involved in the preliminary round will be exempt from that fixture for the following three years.

That’s a step in the right direction, because people don’t want to be caught in the preliminary round too often, and it seemed to be happening to some counties more than others.

And while the live televising of just two Ulster SFC games this season has provoked criticism of the GAA, Harte feels more supporters will be enticed out of their armchairs and onto the terraces and stands.

Tyrone’s mouthwatering opener against Monaghan on Sunday week will not be aired live on any channel.

“Maybe there could be some added value to this, in that more people will go along to these games, and there will be more energy and more enthusiasm on terraces, when people go to the games, because they aren’t able to sit at home and see them as they happen.

“These games will go on, people will see them, people will see them in deferred presentation, and there’ll always be highlights,” said Harte.

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