Sports

Harte optimistic despite league defeats

Thursday, 6 April 2017

TYRONE boss Mickey Harte believes his team has every reason to go into the Ulster Championship with confidence, despite completing the National Football League programme with three straight defeats.

The Red Hands lost by seven points to Kerry in Killarney on Sunday, but the manager saw ample reason for optimism.

“Strangely enough last year in division two our last two league games were disappointing results. We had already qualified and we drew with Armagh and Fermanagh and in that situation we didn't learn an awful lot," he said.

“I think we have learned more for our last three games in this league albeit that we were losing them and if we apply the learning we got from those games I think not only will it leave us not worse off but better prepared for the championship and that's your intention to be better prepare for the championship."

Harte was disappointed with the first half display against a Kerry side that started strongly and built up a comfortable lead by the interval.

“We had a very poor first half obviously and that goes without saying," he said.

“It would have been easy to have been slaughtered altogether today, so I think at half-time we had to look about playing for a bit of pride.

“It was going to be really unlikely that we would ever overhaul that amount against a team like Kerry.

“We had to do our best to narrow the gap, and I suppose the fact that we got it back to five at a stage was encouraging.

“We probably had a chance to get it out a bit closer, we probably had a couple of chances not to be so far behind, but it is as it is. It was as it was at half-time, and I think it was a damage limitation job, unfortunately.

“Kerry were full value for their first half lead, and I suppose we posed some more questions for them in the second half, but I don't think we were every going to be able to pose enough to make it a victory for us."

Harte struggled to pinpoint the reason for his side's somewhat display in the first 35 minutes.

“That's the six million dollar question. If you knew that you would never let it happen again, but we didn't set out to be flat.

“We intended to be energised at the start of the game, but you never can tell. You travel down on the day before and you try to be as ready as you can for the game.

“Maybe it's as much to do with how well Kerry were geared up for a fast start as we appeared to be flat-footed.

“It's always a combination of more than one thing, I don't think it's all about one team or the other. I think it's about how very ready they were for the game, so therefore that made us look not ready at all.

“Our players set out to be ready, they set out to challenge everything, every ball, but just after those first 10, 12 minutes, it was a very difficult day."

The Tyrone manager had his own view on the difficulties his attack have experienced in hitting the target from play.

“People always throw out these statistics of what you get from play, Well  if you get frees you would have to them from play if people hadn't fouled you. So we were in the position to get scores and it was a foul against you so if we get those frees we were in scoreable position, so it's not all about scoring from play.

“If we were allowed to play on we probably would have got those scores so I don't see it as a big issue. More the issue was we conceded so much in the first half and in the first half of the first half that was maybe the most worrying thing that we were conceding scores for fun.

“That was worrying, at one stage it looked like it could be the mother of all beatings. I think that we saved ourselves from that we have to be happy with the second half performance."

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