GAA Football

Hill 16 can lift Dublin over us warns Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte at the Red Hands' media conference in Garvaghey.
Picture by Hugh Russell

TYRONE should be wary of the sound coming from Hill 16, warns Mickey Harte – and so should officials.

The Red Hands' manager marvelled at the lift the Dublin support can give their team but also recalled an incident that arguably cost his side a crucial goal in a previous meeting.

Harte rejected a suggestion that the hordes in blue in Croke Park next Sunday might influence decisions in Dublin's favour in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

"I'm not sure they'll have a great impact on officiating, it's just that energy that they bring, it's almost like they're the 16th and 17th men, not just the 16th, but two of them…

"They have a capacity to influence the energy of the team that they're supporting but I don't think they have a big influence over refereeing decisions.

"At this level, I trust the referees to make the decision that is right for them because they want to do things to the best of their ability too."

As Tyrone aim to reach their first All-Ireland final since 2008, Harte said that the showdown on August 27 may as well be a decider, at least in terms of atmosphere:

"To me, it always has been, when you play Dublin in Croke Park in the All-Ireland Championship, it might has well be an All-Ireland Final, because the same atmosphere is there, the same crowd is there, the same power of the Hill is there.

"Whether it's a semi-final, a quarter-final, or an All-Ireland Final, I don't think there's a lot of difference."

"The energy that you find or get from an All-Ireland Final is always present when you play the Dubs when they're in good form – and they're in good form this last number of years."

The two counties' rivalry turned in the 2010 quarter-final, when Dublin avenged defeats by Tyrone at the same stage in 2005 and 2008.

However, Harte recalled a controversial moment from that clash, which was closely fought until Dublin pulled away late on:

"I would say one important thing, and this goes back to a game against Dublin...

"At a very important time in that game we put a wonderful ball into Martin Penrose - and there was a whistle blown from the Hill. He just paused for that split-second and he lost that opportunity of a clear-cut goal.

"I haven't heard it much this year, I hope it doesn't come back again.

"That wouldn't be a good thing to happen, I hope it doesn't happen, but we have to be very aware of the possibility of that."

Harte is more concerned that Dublin fans can boost their team in more traditional ways, saying: "I remember back in 2005 when we were maybe eight points up at one stage and the Hill got behind Dublin and I've often described it as they almost sucked the ball over bar five times to get us back to three, until we got that other goal to take the heat off again.

"They have that power. There is an energy that comes of the crowd whenever a player or a group of players do something good.

"I don't know how it happens, it's almost like an orchestra, it just rises, the tempo rises, and everybody feels 'There's something special happening here'. It mightn't be that special to look at, but there's just an energy about it."

Harte reported a clean bill of health, apart from Connor McAliskey not being in full contact training as he continues his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury.

Key midfielder Colm Cavanagh is available after being forced off in the quarter-final against Armagh following a collision with Brendan Donaghy.

Harte expects Dublin forward Diarmuid Connolly to feature at some stage now his 12-week suspension has elapsed, commenting:

"You would be a fool to dismiss the influence that Diarmuid Connolly can have on any game – and has had over many years.

"He's absolutely a quality player, and has developed even into a better player than he was than when he first came on the scene, where he had all the natural talent and skill and ability. But he's a powerful player now along with that as well.

"Jim Gavin will be the one will decide how and when we see him, and in what context... but I know for sure that he's certainly a strength that Dublin didn't have in their games since he got that suspension. So it is an advantage for Dublin to have him in the script just now".

Connolly scored seven points from play as Dublin destroyed Tyrone in the 2011 quarter-final and Harte reckons the St Vincent's man is even better now:

"He's a two-footed player who's comfortable on either side. And physically an imposing person as well; he's not sort of a small guy.

"So he's got a lot of the attributes that you would love to have in a player: all that natural talent and ability; size and power for the modern game.

"And probably at that stage he hadn't developed as much power as he has now. So I think he's a Connolly-plus now from 2011, which means that we've got to be very careful!"

* Mickey Harte condemned the re-selling of match tickets at inflated prices as "obscene". The GAA cancelled some Dublin-Tyrone tickets after they appeared on unofficial sites and Harte expressed his opposition to the profiteering that goes on:

"I wouldn't like anybody to pay over the odds to watch a game. I think you pay enough when you pay the admission price that's on them, because you pay enough for tickets and because of the demand to see them.

"I would never, ever want to see anybody pay over the odds for a ticket to any game or any concert or anything else. I think it is obscene to do that.

"If you want to not make use of your own ticket then you should really make sure somebody who wants to see it should get it at face value. I would never advocate any of this inflated pricing of tickets."

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