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Summer stunners Down will no longer have the surprise factor to carry into Sunday’s Ulster Final but remain a dangerous threat to Tyrone’s chances of defending their provincial title all the same, according to Mickey Harte.
The Mourne County have wound back the clock in recent weeks to their illustrious past, making light of their underdogs tag to shock both Armagh and Monaghan in the Championship.
The unpredictability of the team should ensure there is no room for complacency in the Red Hand camp at St Tiernach’s Park as they go hunting for back to back provincial titles.
Harte though feels that the cat is now out of the bag as far as Down are concerned with the evidence of their threat to Tyrone clear for all to see.
“ The wildcard (factor) only lasts for a while. They are predictable now, they can play good football. They have beaten both Armagh and Monaghan to get to the final so I don’t think that we can wait anymore and say ‘this is a big surprise that Down are a formidable team’.
“ They have proven that now by getting to the final and having two wins behind them. Tradition and history would say that when Down teams get on a roll they get better every time. So if Down get better, as they generally do, then we know what we will have to deal with in the final.
“ I think that the surprise element is gone. If people are still going to be surprised by the quality of Down then they haven’t been looking at them this last couple of games.”
Looking back on Down’s semi-final victory over Monaghan, Harte contends that it was probably understandable if the Farney men weren’t properly focused on the task at hand, given the score in their previous meeting.
“I suppose you could see a reason why people might suggest that Monaghan could have been complacent. If you beat somebody by 2-20 to 0-9, or whatever it was, 12 months ago you might understand why people might think that there should only be one outcome in that game.
“On the evening though Down came along with a different attitude and played to back up that attitude and they performed very well. It just shows that you can turn the tide in your favour if you go about it with the right attitude and apply yourself the right way.
“ It would be wrong to take the credit away from Down for performing so well but you would have to say as well that again, on that particular night, Monaghan would know that they could play better too.”
Both Tyrone and Down have adopted an expansive kicking game in their most recent outings, something which has satisfied the purists, who lament the laboured, possession based handpassing tactics that have become so common-place.
Harte however cautioned that it was important for all teams to be tactically astute and versatile.
Posted: 10:28 am July 14, 2017
JUSTIN McMahon has called time on a glittering career with Tyrone crowned by an All-Ireland senior triumph in 2008.