Ten years on from Tyrone denying Kerry a third consecutive All-Ireland title, Mickey Harte has described Brian Dooher’s point in that year’s final as the “score of all time”.
As the counties clash in Omagh on Sunday with their Division 1 statuses confirmed for another year, Harte regales on his TG4 Laochra Gael tribute next week about the majesty of his captain’s first-half score in 2008 to tie up the sides.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better point scored in Croke Park, and I doubt if I ever will. I think, to me, it was the score of all time, the way he carried the ball, of the tackles he shipped, and he still had the energy and quality to put that ball over the bar. I don’t think I’ll ever see a better point scored in Croke Park — that’s my firm belief.”
Tyrone, too, had a three in a row in their minds as they aimed to beat Kerry for the third straight time in championship football after the 2003 All-Ireland semi-final and ’05 final successes.
“They were going for three in a row and so there was a lot at stake here,” acknowledged Harte.
“We certainly weren’t in awe of them and that was a good way to be and we performed well again. The John Wooden philosophy about competitive greatness is you need to be at your best when the best is required.”
Harte never felt the Kerry motivation as much as the 2005 final, but then Tyrone were propelled by the memory of Cormac McAnallen who tragically passed away the year before.
“It was their time for revenge and a bit of redemption. They scored very quickly in this one and early on they got a goal. That gave them the confidence to say, ‘We’ve cracked this. These people held us out so long the last time. We’ve got at them now and we’ve got a goal through Dara Ó Cinnéide. We’re in a good position.’ I think it lulled them into a wee false sense of security.
“This really was for Cormac to fulfil his words and his prediction that he didn’t want to win just one All-Ireland. The boys felt that he now had a second All-Ireland.”
On the 2003 semi-final, Harte continues to dispute the criticism of the Tyrone display in that game. “Some people see it as negative and in fact it’s very positive. If you lose the ball and as many people as possible do their best to get it back, that to me is a very fair thing to do rather than saying ‘you get it back’ or ‘that’s your responsibility’.
“It’s everybody’s responsibility to regain possession of the ball as quickly as possible.”
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