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GAA Football

Mickey Harte rounds on Tyrone's critics once again

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has publicly defended the tactics of his side, claiming that "every team plays defensive and attacking football."
Sean O'Neill

AN angry Mickey Harte has publicly lashed out again at what he perceives to be unjust criticism of his side’s defensive approach.

The long-serving Tyrone manager has hit out strongly in recent days at sections of the media he says accuse his county of continually playing negative football.

And as Tyrone boss Harte was speaking to the BBC's Mark Sidebottom in the immediate aftermath of the Red Hands’ four-point loss to Donegal in the Dr McKenna Cup final on Saturday night, the subject resurfaced.

Referring to last season, when Tyrone were well beaten in the All-Ireland semi-final by Dublin, a display which once again raised questions about the ability of this current Tyrone side to cope with the top two or three sides, as well as Harte’s game plan, Sidebottom asked whether he might consider "a more attacking approach."

Harte, who just last week spoke about certain observers having "an agenda against Tyrone" asked, with an initial smile on his face: "Were you watching our games last year?"

When Sidebottom replied: "Yeah, I watched the one against Dublin," that smile quickly disappeared as a frustrated Harte responded: "I hoped you watched all the rest of them too, because the rest of them were very different to the one against Dublin.

"But they were played under a certain methodology or system of play – call it what you will, and they were very effective for us."

As Sidebottom persisted, by asking: "Does that methodology need to change and evolve?" the Tyrone boss became even more riled, asking his interviewer: "Was it very effective in the first four games? Did it give us very good outcomes?

"It did of course, because we won every game by a hatful. So I don’t know where you’re coming from.

"You’re like the rest of them – you’re deciding on one game, the whole of our season. Please look at the whole season and then tell us that we’re doing an awful lot wrong."

When the BBC man assured Harte that he was not trying to be contentious, and that he considered that what was being asked of him was "a reasonable question," the Ballygawley man shot back: "But I don’t understand this – every team plays defensive and attacking football.

"We do the same. There seems to be a total focus on the way we do it, and I don’t see anything different from any of the other teams who are doing it. So, I don’t see why this argument comes up."

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