GAA Football

Tyrone won't get the same chances against Donegal admits Red Hand boss Mickey Harte

Neil Loughran

MICKEY Harte has acknowledged that Tyrone will get nowhere near as many opportunities to put the ball over the bar when they come up against a revitalised Donegal in three weeks' time.

The Red Hands scored 22 points on the way to beating Derry at Celtic Park yesterday, cruising across the finish line with 11 points to spare as the Oak Leaf challenge faded following a brief revival after half-time.

Despite the same margin of victory as in last year's Ulster quarter-final, Derry had closed the gap to three within the opening five minutes of the second half and appeared to have all the momentum.

But back came Tyrone to finish the job and, despite kicking 12 wides, Harte admitted he was more satisfied yesterday than after last year's game.

However, he knows they can't afford to pass up as many opportunities in front of goal against the Tir Chonaill men on June 18.

“We have plenty to think about,” said Harte.

“I think in the first half we had 19 scoring opportunities and only got the 10 – six wide and three short. That is not a great return.

“Yes, it's good to have won by a margin that didn't make us sweat but we have a lot to tidy up on because Donegal are going to be a different proposition and we definitely won't get that amount of chances to score against them.

“It probably is a better win because as you say last year was academic,” he continued.

“We had the goals at half-time to give us a very comfortable position so it was a case of damage limitation in the second half. But this time we had to play from start to finish and try and do the best we could.”

Harte didn't appear to have any shortage of firepower as he introduced the likes of Darren McCurry and Lee Brennan in the second half, the Tyrone subs contributing seven points to their final tally – McCurry bagging three from play.

And the Glencull man was pleased with the contribution from the bench.

“Given the number of players that we gave time in the second half is all good as well; we were giving some people a taste of what Ulster Championship football is about for the first time and getting them up to the speed of what is required.”

One of those who was making his first start in the provincial Championship was Conall McCann – and the Killyclogher midfielder turned in an awesome performance to drive Tyrone to victory.

Some eyebrows were raised when McCann was named in the starting 15 last Thursday night, but Harte says his selection was fully deserved.

“Well, that is why we work hard at training and why we have a close eye on players right throughout the season and in the build-up to games,” added Harte.

“You kind of hope you will notice who is in form and really putting their hand up to get a place on the team, and he did that. So it wasn't a surprise to us.

“It was our observation of who really wanted that second place at midfield. And he had competition because Declan McClure and Padraig McNulty were there; he didn't have it easy.

“But he showed a lot in the last three or four weeks to show that he really wanted to be there and I am glad he justified our faith in him by the way he performed today.”

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