Less than a week after Tyrone’s agonising exit from the All-Ireland series, Mickey Harte has already begun his preparations for a fresh challenge in 2017.
He will gather his players around him before the weekend to lay out his plans for next season.
Garvaghey is the likely setting for a squad meeting which Harte regards as strategically important, despite the lingering, raw pain of Saturday’s narrow one point quarter-final defeat to Mayo.
“I think we have to reflect on what happened, review it to some degree, bring out the positives, and set goals for the new season, however long it appears to be away,” he said.
“I think people need to get their mindset to say, this is what we’re targeting next season, and even though we’re not together, don’t forget that that process begins now.”
The agenda is wide-ranging.
The Croke Park loss to the Connacht men will be foremost in the thoughts of the players, and will no doubt receive particular attention.
But reflections on an otherwise successful season, which saw the Red Hands go on an eight-month unbeaten run, winning four trophies along the way, will also come in for close scrutiny.
“The value (of the meeting) is that people get time to reflect on the season that has gone before. It isn’t all about the final countdown, it isn’t all about the final knock-out.
“It’s about what happened across the season. People must reflect on that, and I think they must reflect on it, in our case positively, and therefore set the goals and targets for the new season as well.”
While encouraged by the progress of a young, developing team, and the success they achieved throughout the season, the Tyrone manager is bitterly disappointed to have failed to progress beyond the last eight in the All-Ireland series.
“We achieved many of our goals. We wanted to retain the McKenna Cup, we wanted to get promotion out of Division Two and win the title, which we did.
“And obviously we wanted to win an Ulster title, so I suppose if you had said at the start of the year that you’d achieve those things, you’d have to be content to a certain degree.
“But the bar is put high in Tyrone now, and success is measured by All-Irelands. It’s a long time since we ever got to and reached that bar, and the challenge is to get back there.
“That’s the hard bit to take, that we feel that we certainly, in the last two years, were very capable of getting to an All-Ireland final, and if you’re in a final, then you’d like to think you have a decent chance of winning it.
“But not getting there just seems to be climbing so far and then falling back again, and that’s frustrating for everybody, for the players more than anybody, and for the fans and everybody who follows the game in Tyrone.
“They see the top of the mountain, but we just can’t get there at the minute.”
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