Mickey Harte: no fears of demoralising effect for Tyrone after three straight losses
MICKEY Harte has no fears that three straight losses will have a demoralising effect on his players as they begin preparations for the Ulster Championship.
Last season, Tyrone won a first provincial title in six years on the back of a lengthy unbeaten run, but the backdrop looks much different this time around as they turn their attentions to a first round clash with Derry at Celtic Park on May 28.
Defeats to Donegal, Mayo and Kerry scuppered the Red Hands’ challenge for a place in the NFL final, and having gone into the latter part of the campaign as Division One leaders, they finished in a disappointing sixth place.
“I think we have learned more from our last three games in this league, albeit that we were losing them, and if we apply the learning we got from those games, I think not only will it leave us not worse off but better prepared for the championship and that’s your intention, to be better prepare for the championship,” said the Tyrone boss.
Harte feels he and his players will learn more from the lessons of defeats suffered during a difficult couple of weeks tan they would have done from a run of positive results.
And during the eight-week break between the end of their league programme and the first defence of the Ulster title, issues will be identified and worked upon.
“Strangely enough, last year in Division Two, our last two league games were disappointing results.
“We had already qualified and we drew with Armagh and Fermanagh and in that situation we didn’t learn an awful lot.”
Tyrone’s poor start at Killarney last Sunday is one source of concern.
They struggled to match Kerry’s energy and intensity in the early stages, falling eleven points behind at one stage, leaving them with no realistic prospect of carving out the win that would have seen them qualify for the league final.
Harte is puzzled by the failure of his team to get to the pitch of the contest in those early stages.
“That’s the six million dollar question. If you knew that you would never let it happen again, but we didn’t set out to be flat.
“We intended to be energised at the start of the game, but you never can tell. You travel down on the day before and you try to be as ready as you can for the game.
“Maybe it’s as much to do with how well Kerry were geared up for a fast start as we appeared to be flat-footed.
“It’s always a combination of more than one thing, I don’t think it’s all about one team or the other. I think it’s about how very ready they were for the game, so therefore that made us look not ready at all.
“Our players set out to be ready, they set out to challenge everything, every ball, but just after those first 10, 12 minutes, it was a very difficult day.”
But Harte conceded: “Kerry were full value for their first half lead, and I suppose we posed some more questions for them in the second half, but I don’t think we were every going to be able to pose enough to make it a victory for us.”