THE odds are against Tyrone winning this weekend’s All-Ireland semi-final, but Mickey Harte is relaxed and optimistic ahead of the game.
He may not have won an All-Ireland semi-final since 2008, and he may have a team laden with younger faces than the teams that won All-Irelands in the past, but he believes.
“If I didn’t believe it was possible then I wouldn’t want to be involved. You wouldn’t be able to do the best for your players if you weren’t able to say to them, ‘we are capable of getting to the top of the mountain’. I’ve believed that every year we have played.”
It isn’t just enough to believe that he has a strong first 15. The modern game demand that a team has a strong bench.
This year players like David Mulgrew have been sprung from the sideline to change games. Harte thinks that can happen again.
“I do believe that we have game-changers on the bench. While they mightn’t be as experienced or they mightn’t have as many medals that the Dublin squad have, I still think we have people who can make a difference.”
Those who don’t believe Tyrone could win would say that the current team isn’t as good as the sides that won in 2003, 05 and 08.
Harte agrees that the teams are different but he says that he has overseen a successful transformation.
“You have to deal with where you are at at any given time. You have a set of players, you have to look at their age band, at how long they have been involved, what stage of their careers that they are at. You have to try and get some balance. It is a difficulty some times for a really good set of players, too many of them are going out at the other end of the conveyor belt and that can be very difficult to keep some degree of continuity
“We have managed that situation very well. People have gone out, and the whole transformation of the team has taken place, apart from Sean, from those teams that won All-Irelands in 03, 05 and 08.
“We have got a set of players in this band who are experienced, capable and want to build their own piece of history.
“I think they are conscious of attempting to do that. I think they have done some memorable things for the team.”
Posted: 9:05 am August 26, 2017
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JUSTIN McMahon has called time on a glittering career with Tyrone crowned by an All-Ireland senior triumph in 2008.