'We're on the cusp of something decent': Harte hoping Tyrone fulfill potential on big stage

As he prepares his side for Sunday’s Division 2 final, the veteran manager knows now is the time to deliver.

Harte determined to guide Tyrone back to the big time.
Harte determined to guide Tyrone back to the big time.
Image: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

TYRONE MANAGER MICKEY Harte believes his current squad are capable of bringing glory back to the county as they prepare for Sunday’s Allianz League Division 2 final against Cavan.

The Red Hand county go into the weekend’s decider at Croke Park off the back of a solid campaign as they secured promotion to Division 1 with five wins from their seven outings.

With silverware on the line this weekend at Croke Park, Harte acknowledges the importance of winning just a second league title for a set of players who must now fulfill their potential on the big stage.

“Possibly it’s heading that way, but that’s to be confirmed yet,” he replied, when asked if this was his strongest panel since the All-Ireland winning one in 2008.

“It looks like it has that potential to be as strong, but you have to go out and do that on important days.

“Until the season goes on a bit and we see these players who aren’t in the first 15 coming in on any given day and establishing themselves and making a difference, then you could conclude what you’re suggesting. It’s a potential thing at the minute. You couldn’t have put the reality stamp on that just yet.

“There’s a good bunch of players across various age groups. You still have Sean Cavanagh, the senior citizen of all, and it’s very important that he’s there too.

Allianz Football League Division 1 & 2 Finals Preview Harte with Cavan manager Terry Hyland. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

“There’s a lot of players at various stages of their development and it’s coming together quite well. But it’s also results that talk. Potential’s potential, but results say you are fulfilling your potential. There’s lots of things to be answered yet. We’re maybe sitting on the cusp of something decent, but one or two games can turn that on its head.”

The veteran manager will be hoping Sunday serves as a springboard with the championship season just around the corner.

Twelve months ago, Tyrone enjoyed a run to the All-Ireland semi-finals but just fell short of upsetting Kerry in the last four.

A four-point defeat at Croke Park was a bitter pill to swallow but Harte used the disappointment as motivation to come back stronger. Days after the semi-final, he met with his players to re-emphasise the fact that they belong at the highest level.

“There is a really good bunch of players there and they’ve got to believe they’re that good,” Harte explains. “I think that run through the qualifiers last year began to sow the seeds in their head that ‘yes, this is possible, we can play to a very high level.

“The runs in the qualifiers are all well and good but it’s nice to have something tangible like a cup or a trophy. That’s the evidence of your progression. You can progress so well so far but what trophies did you win. So it’s about time to get a few titles. That’s why this is important on Sunday. Very important.”

On the injury front, the 13-time Ulster champions will be without the services of Niall Morgan (broken hand), Ronan McNabb (cruciate) and Peter Harte (shoulder) while there are doubts over the fitness of Darren McCurry and Hugh Pat McGeary.

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Sean Cavanagh shoots at goal Sean Cavanagh's form has been crucial for Tyrone. Source: Presseye/John McVitty/INPHO

In the league meeting between the two sides earlier in the season, Tyrone edged out a narrow two-point win but Cavan have turned a corner since then to earn promotion and a place at HQ.

It will be a significant day for both counties in the capital in a game which will precede the Division 1 final between Dublin and Kerry.

“I’ve got to believe it’s possible,” Harte says of bridging the gap between Division 1 and 2.

“If I don’t believe it’s possible, it won’t happen. If I believe it’s possible it may happen. So I believe it’s possible.”

“I don’t think you can switch on the winning mentality when it suits. I think you’’ve got to want to win every game you play in. And if people come to support you they deserve the best, pay through the gates, take pride in the team.”

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