Mickey Harte: Tyrone must be ready to face down Cork backlash
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is expecting to feel the brunt of a backlash from a Cork team still smarting from a Munster final drubbing at the hands of Kerry.
Harte believes Ronan McCarthy’s side is much better than it showed in the crushing 3-18 to 2-4 provincial decider defeat at Pairc Ui Chaoimh last month.
Saturday’s round four Qualifier clash offers the lucrative reward of a prized place in the All-Ireland Super 8s, and the Red Hand boss is preparing for a ferocious battle.
“Maybe that’s where the sting in the tail is for us, that they will want to kick back with something to raise the standard up to what they know they’re capable of playing,” he said.
“And if they do that, I think it will take a really good performance to beat them.”
Harte feels that Cork’s Munster semi-final performance against Tipperary offers a more accurate picture of their quality.
The Rebels performed with assurance on that occasion at Semple Stadium, routing a highly rated Premier side by 1-17 to 0-9.
“We would have to look more at what they did against Tipperary than what they did against Kerry.
“They didn’t do themselves justice against Kerry in the final, whereas they had very good form against Tipperary, and we know that Tipperary are no bad team either. So we have to be on our guard.”
The Tyrone boss reckons he has landed the most difficult possible assignment from yesterday’s draw, which could also have paired his side with Roscommon, Fermanagh or Laois.
“There was going to be no easy draw at this stage. If you look at the difficulty factor, I think we have got as difficult a one as we could have got.”
Harte is also mindful of Tyrone’s record against Cork, a county that has never lost a championship game to the Red Hands, and has also proven a difficult NFL opponent.
“Traditionally, over the past decade or more, they have a very good record against us, and we have to be mindful of that.
“We always found them a difficult team to deal with, so we have to be very conscious of our record against them. It wouldn’t be pretty, and we know that this is the all-important game.
“Cork always feel good meeting Tyrone. I think they feel Tyrone is a team that they can manage, that they can handle.
“The last time we met in championship was 2009 in an All-Ireland semi-final, and we were going very good at that time, on the back of the previous year’s All-Ireland.
“They put us to the sword that day, and we still had a lot of our team of the noughties still there, and they didn’t fear us in any shape or form.
“I think that will give them confidence. They don’t see Tyrone as a team that they can’t handle, and that’s the challenge for us – we have to meet them knowing that that’s’ their mentality, and knowing that we have to be really good to overcome that.”