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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 25 January, 2020

'Maybe one of these days we'll not be seen as a defensive team' - Mickey Harte

Tyrone have scored 6-77 in their four championship games to date in 2017.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

TYRONE MANAGED TO clear a hurdle yesterday they fell at in devastating fashion to Mayo 12 months ago.

Mickey Harte’s side were upset by underdogs Mayo at this stage last season, when many felt the Ulster outfit would go close in the race for Sam Maguire.

The Red Hand dished out an 18-point pummelling to Armagh in the All-Ireland quarter-final to book a last four meeting with back-to-back champions Dublin in the last four.

Speaking after Tyrone’s comfortable win, Harte described the loss to Mayo a year ago as “soul destroying.”

“We walked out of here at the same stage last year and we were not happy people because we had put a lot into the year up to that and we’d played enough football that day to at least get a second chance and we didn’t get it,” he stated.

“That’s soul destroying when you think of the work and time and energy that these boys put in. This has been brewing in us for a year and we’re very happy to have been able to get back and to give ourselves a chance to be playing later in August.”

Tyrone have scored 6-77 in their four wins over Derry, Donegal, Down and Armagh to get to this point.

“Maybe one of these days we’ll not be seen as a defensive team,” Harte quipped when that figure was put to him.

It would be wrong to classify Tyrone as a defensive outfit, but rather they are a brilliant counter-attacking team.

They’ve had an incredible spread of scorers and don’t rely on any one player to put up big tallies, although Mark Bradley, Peter Harte and Sean Cavanagh are all important contributors.

Matthew Donnelly and David Mulgrew with James Morgan and Ben Crealey Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Depsite the big winning margin, there were areas of concern for the Tyrone boss.

“We wouldn’t be particularly happy with how we got into that position. We stumbled our way into that kind of lead. We didn’t play with poise or real quality. We picked off some good scores, the penalty was significant and the goal meant there was a good cushion there.

“We wouldn’t have been happy with our first-half performance. Yes, the scoreboard was grand for us. That’s not playing down the thing. We were unhappy with much of our play. The start of the second-half I’m sure was horrible to watch because it was who could give the ball away the quickest and the easiest.”

He reserved special praise for the impact of substitute David Mulgrew, who posted 2-1 in a scintillating display off the bench.

“He’s a good young footballer. That’s why he had played a lot in the Ulster championship and it was probably a bit difficult on him not to start this one. Again, you have to look at the contribution Declan McClure gave in the Ulster final and you’d say it would have been a big thing not to let him start today either.

“It’s horses for courses, on different days, different people do the right things. That is some response that David Mulgrew gave to not starting the game. He looked so energised and he looked so cool. He finished like an out and out finisher yet he’s actually a much more all around the field type of player. His first goal was the one that really settled the game for us.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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