GAA Football

It'll take Tyrone time to catch up with pacy Dublin - Peter Harte

Tyrone's Peter Harte tries to get away from Dublin defender Cian O'Sullivan during Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final. Pic Philip Walsh

SPEED may have been a major difference between Dublin and Tyrone on Sunday but Peter Harte points out that there'll be no quick fix to bridge the gap between the two teams.

The Dubs destroyed the Red Hands in the All-Ireland semi-final, and could have won even more comfortably than their eventual 12-point success, 2-17 to 0-11.

Jim Gavin's side have a very similar age profile to Mickey Harte's men, so both sides have time to improve, but the Tyrone manager's nephew said: "There's no quick formula in football, unfortunately.

"Dublin have been ahead of most teams for the last five, six years. To close the gap you have to find a system, find a way of playing to beat them. That's what we're working on.

"We thought maybe before the game we had something to stifle them but the game didn't go that way. Sometimes that's football, especially against good teams like Dublin: if they get a start on you the game can get away from you quickly.

"That's a lesson to be learned and we'll look to the future. That's all you can do, get back working hard for next year."

Indeed, as regards Dublin's bright beginning to the semi-final, like his uncle, Petey felt that Con O'Callaghan's fifth minute goal - which put Dublin into a lead they never looked like losing - was a key element in the one-sided game:

"The one thing you can't do against Dublin is have a poor start and unfortunately we gave away the goal with a soft turnover and from then on, the Dubs are the best in the country.

"They are strong, powerful, they break tackles, and they punish you. Having to come out of a system and press them is tough – it just didn't work for us."

Despite the disappointment of the defeat, and himself having a late penalty kick saved by Stephen Cluxton, Peter was full of praise for the victorious Dubs:

"Aye, I think when you're involved it's hard to give credit, but playing against them they were very good from the off. They're very slick, they tackle strong, they're strong all over the field.

"They have people to come on who can score. That pace they have is hard to handle, they can run from deep, or put the ball inside. They're hard to match for any team.

"Look, that's the level we want to get to. It's sobering at the minute but we'll get back down and work hard over the winter and get ready for 2018."

The 26-year-old had no complaints about the close attention he received from Dublin defender John Small in particular, who was booked in the first half and committed a few more fouls, saying with a laugh: "It's part and parcel of the game – I'm not there to referee it, although I might try it at times.

"Look, you've got to work hard, you've got to try to influence the game, and that's just modern football."

Another aspect is the tremendous tackling from Dublin's forwards, who repeatedly raced back to strip possession from advancing Tyrone players:

"They're the champions, double champions, they work very hard from 15 back to 2. They can all tackle, they can all turn over [the ball].

"It's a lesson for us that that is the level we have to get to. Everybody has to be able to keep their own ball and win their own ball off other people.

"That's the level for all the teams in Ulster looking on – and probably the rest of Ireland."

Only Mayo remain to challenge the Dubs now, but Harte still fancies Dublin to complete a three-in-a-row of senior triumphs, commenting:

"It's hard to say, they were impressive, Mayo were impressive, it looks like leading to a good final. When you're the double All-Ireland champions you've a fair right to be favourites."

As for Tyrone, they must plan for next year without their captain Sean Cavanagh, who confirmed his retirement from the inter-county scene after 16 seasons in red and white.

Harte obviously had warm words for him too, saying: "Ach, Sean's a legend, you grew up watching him – I had the privilege of watching him and the privilege of playing with him for seven, eight years.

"There's probably been no better role model in Tyrone, very few anyway: maybe Cormac [McAnallen], Peter Canavan, boys like that. If that's the esteem he's held in, he's held in the highest regard in Tyrone football. I just wish him the best for his future work, life, and family".

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