GAELIC GAMES: Mickey Harte focuses Ulster champions Tyrone on next challenge

Sean Cavanagh of Tyrone  in action against Niall McParland of Down
Sean Cavanagh of Tyrone in action against Niall McParland of Down

Tyrone collected the coveted Anglo Celt Cup for the 15th time in their history when an impressive second half display saw them get the better of a dogged Down side 2-17 to 0-15 in the sweltering heat in Clones.

It was a sixth Provincial title success for Mickey Harte at senior level and he pointed to Tyrone’s start to the second half as being key to victory.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

“We are naturally pleased to have won another Ulster title,” said Harte.

“We did believe that Down would be difficult to break down and they proved that in the first half.

“They were with us every step of the way, it was a pretty intense game, and we knew that we needed a good start to the second half to give ourselves a bit of a leeway or a cushion and we got it.

“Sometimes we got a really good run of play and we converted the chances that was the big thing.

Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh and Down's Gerard McGovern

Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh and Down's Gerard McGovern

“Last day out against Donegal we did that before halftime and today we did it after halftime and that really pushed us into a good place.

“After that it was a question of keeping the distance and that burst at the start of the second half was probably the winning of the game for us.

Down improved with every game in the Ulster championship and they came into today’s game with nothing to lose and they went about their business in the first half very intensely and very well. They missed a good goal chance at the end of the first half which was a significant miss on their part and a good let off for us.

“They made it very difficult and I suppose they let it slip a bit at the start of the second half which meant that they had to chase the game and that made them vulnerable to a couple of our scores then.”

It was the fourth time in their history that Tyrone successful defended the Ulster title and they will no doubt be eager to atone for the disappointment of 12 months ago when they lost by the minimum margin to Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter final at headquarters.

“We are through to the quarter final of the All-Ireland know and in the past we have fallen at this stage too often for our own good so we will be very focussed on what we are about now and prepare for this game and it is an awful place to go out especially after winning your Provincial title,” said Harte.

“Unfinished business is when you go to Croke Park as Ulster champions and don’t win. It is now one step at a time, we want to be in the semi-final and that is our next challenge now.

“That is all that we can aim for but that is what we are aiming for at this point in time and if we get there we will be very happy to be in a semi-final,” added Harte.

“That is the challenge that is in front of us now, win a game in the last eight and be in the last four and if we can do that then I will be happy.

“The team has been maturing over this past couple of years and they are getting better, there is no doubt about that.

“But we have to get better to do better than what we have been doing up until now so if the improvement is enough to take us to where we want to go time alone will tell.

“We are pointing in the right direction and I think it is important to win games and to win trophies and to consolidate your position as the best team in Ulster for now.”