Tyrone's Peter Harte proves that the patient approach pays off
"I'VE said before it's hard to watch," acknowledged Peter Harte – but this isn't a 'Manager's nephew slams Tyrone tactics' shocker.
The Errigal Ciaran player had to sit out the first round of the qualifiers against Meath due to his late sending off in the Ulster loss to Monaghan, so was delighted to return to action against Carlow last weekend:
"I thank God to be fit and healthy and be able to get out on the field. It was great to get back.
"I'd much rather be out playing. Thank God we got the job done. Even club matches when I'm not playing I find watching hard."
Yet while traditionalists may not like the patient hand-passing and regular Tyrone-watchers suggested his apparent reluctance to shoot last Saturday showed a lack of confidence, Harte insists he'll only go for goal or aim over the bar if he's almost certain he'll score.
"I just think if the shot's not 100 per cent on, especially against teams like Carlow, if you give the ball away you mightn't get it back for three minutes," he explained.
"You just know you're going to have to work very hard if you're going to get your hands on the ball again, so you want to keep it and make sure you're doing something productive with it.
"Pot-shots are maybe a thing of the past. If you watch the Dubs, the best team about, they very rarely take a snap-shot; everything is worked to the man in the right position. Most of the teams in the country are trying to work that way; we're trying to do the same as well."
'Petey' perhaps proved that philosophy of football right when he pointed off his less favoured right foot, and the visitors' patience paid off as they came from behind to win comfortably in Carlow.
Tyrone can expect to face a similarly packed defence when they take on Ulster rivals Cavan in round three of the qualifiers at Brewster Park this Saturday evening.
The Red Hands may need another moment of magic like Harte produced for the first goal in Dr Cullen Park in order to open up Mattie McGleenan's men, who deployed three sweepers at home to Down last time out.
It wasn't quite 'Mugsy against Dublin' when Harte jinked and soloed past several defenders before setting up Niall Sludden to palm to the net, but it was certainly better than Harte modestly described it, saying with a laugh:
"I think I got lost in what I was doing rather than it being by design. Look, he finished it well, it was just about getting through.
"We knew Carlow were going to put up a serious test and they did. Anyone who plays that way, with that intensity, it's hard to break down. It was in the first half, but thankfully we got that lead and were able to build on it in the second half."
Harte himself stroked in a penalty after a foul on captain Mattie Donnelly, whose younger brother Richie netted an injury time third goal for a 10-point win, 3-14 to 1-10.
The weather conditions were tough, in searing heat, although the red-headed, pale-skinned Harte wasn't complaining:
"The boys said the last day, the game against Meath, was hotter. That's two games in a row so hopefully we're getting used to it and hopefully it's going to be a summer of good weather – you can't complain about days like that for Championship football.
"We said before the game we'd take it by a point because we'd seen what they did to some teams, like Kildare. If you saw that game, they really put Kildare to the sword, so we were cautious, making sure they we got things right and that we weren't going to get caught.
"We'll not be talking about a win in second round of the qualifiers in three or four months' time, but it gets you there and we just want to keep going."
Tyrone now face the prospect of playing on six consecutive weekends if they reach the Super Eights – although Cavan and then a potential round four qualifier still await – but Harte is happy to contemplate such a busy schedule:
"I think during the National League we played five or six fixtures in a row so it's something that our boys are used to; we're well-conditioned to playing week in, week out. The only thing you can't plan for our are injuries, so if you can keep them to a minimum it's great for the team. Hopefully we can keep going…
"There's no secret that in sport winning breeds that bit of confidence. A few wins in a row helps to build that. But [Cavan] are going to be very good competition. We just have to recover right, there's not much time to do much during the week, we just have to be ready to go on Saturday".