We felt we had let Tyrone supporters down during 10 year wait for All-Ireland final says Mickey Harte
THE Tyrone players and management felt they had let their supporters down by failing to reach an All-Ireland final since 2008 – and were driven on by a determination to put that right, says boss Mickey Harte.
They ended that decade-long wait on Sunday by squeezing past Ulster rivals Monaghan to book a date with the all-conquering Dubs, who are gunning for a fourth All-Ireland title in-a-row on September 2.
The Red Hands have lost four times at the semi-final stage since last lifting the Sam Maguire 10 years ago, and the prospect of bowing out in a fifth was too much for Harte to contemplate.
“If you have been in four semi-finals and go home with nothing to do for the next month only watch other teams go for it, there is an awful sense of anti climax,” he said.
“We know the people of Tyrone. They love their football and love to get energised by it. And we felt for the last number of years that we kind of let them down somehow.
“They just wanted to express themselves in terms of being here on All-Ireland final day. Maybe we got a wee bit spoilt with three in five years in the Noughties, but still there is a longing in the people of Tyrone to be here on All-Ireland final day.
“And we always felt we were playing for them. That’s what we do it for. We don’t do it for ourselves. We do it for those good people who travel miles and miles to support it; people who have family issues where football brings them some consolation.
“So it’s not just about Gaelic games or about playing football, it is about the wellbeing of the people in your county.”
He continued: “It is just like this is the day we have been waiting for a long time and working towards. We had to be very patient, we were knocking on the door getting to decent places, but we could never get to the final.
“We can't be too pleased about all of that because getting to a final is one thing. There is something to be won in the final and we have to knuckle down to do our very best to make a game of this final.”
In their semi-final meeting with the Dubs last year, the game was all but over by half-time as Jim Gavin’s men came flying out of the blocks before cruising through with 12 points to spare.
Yet Tyrone came on strong towards the end of last month’s Super 8 clash between the counties in Omagh and, despite still being edged out by three in the end, showed the gap may not be as wide as many thought.
Harte, though, says neither of those games will count for anything when they run out at Croke Park in three weeks.
“I don’t think you can read that much into it,” he added.
“We didn’t read a 12 point defeat into that match last year. A lot of people did and a lot of people reminded us of it for the last 12 months, but we didn’t feel we were 12 points a worse team than Dublin with that result.
“Neither do we feel necessarily a three point team to Dublin because of what happened in Omagh. There are different scripts, different days: different everything.
“This is a new game and a new situation whereas Dublin are so comfortable having been there so often. So it is a whole different action on the day. We need to just work on how we can be the best we can be on that day and let's see what it brings.”