Tyrone manager Mickey Harte reckons his side could have challenged Dublin for Sam Maguire had they gotten past Mayo in the last eight.
With three All-Ireland titles already in the locker from a stellar managerial career, Harte is well placed to assess the season ahead and the one that got away this year, but he has returned again to try and achieve the ultimate ‘long-term goal’ of a fourth September title.
A one-point defeat to the team that went on to lose the final by a point after a replay is a decent form-line to draw to Tyrone, and Harte thinks his side are real contenders.
“It’s difficult to translate somebody else’s performance to how you might do, but I think you have to say we should be in that department,” said Harte.
“We’d be close enough to be able to contest something like that. There’s no guarantee that if we had been there that we’d have won the game or if it would have been much different.
“Maybe Dublin could have beaten us by more if we’d been in the final, who knows?
“But I do believe we’d have been capable of competing with them.
“It would have been great to get the chance.”
Promotion back to Division 1 for 2017 and a first Ulster title since 2010 points to an excellent season for Tyrone, but falling short in the championship has annoyed the manager.
But he pointed to the example of Mayo as a team to take inspiration from, their hunger to get back and battle every year is a credit to the westerners according to Harte.
“It’s great to be part of an All-Ireland final even if you don’t win it. People are talking about how many Mayo have missed and lost and all the rest of it, but how many counties have never experienced that opportunity?
“All those ones they lost, they had to be in the final so there’s a lot of people in Mayo who have an experience of an All-Ireland. There’s a huge amount of people who have played football who have never had a taste of that day. So they’re well ahead of many.
“Mayo already had three All-Irelands tucked away before we got our first! I remember looking back and you’d have recognised that Mayo were All-Ireland champions on a couple of occasions before Tyrone were able to reach that height.
“Mayo can take great heart from the fact that they’re coming back time after time, that they have quality players, they have good underage success at minor and U21 level. It’s going to happen someday for them. I suppose the players, whatever day it’s going to happen, they’ll hope that they’re the ones that are on the field when it happens. I think it’s a question of when rather than if it will happen.”
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