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Sunday 11 December 2016

Harte's sights on big Break

Mickey Harte
Mickey Harte

Mickey Harte and Terry Hyland had reasons to bask in their very presence in Croke Park on Monday as they attended the League finals media launch.

Similarly, the pair had as much cause as one another to note the fickleness of GAA management.

Each have endured some rough spells, even periods in which some of their own questioned their continued competence in their roles as county managers, yet promotion this year was a significant step on a path for both men and their teams' development.

Harte revealed his belief that this team, the one finally coming through the far and turbulent side of a transitional period for the county, was the most talented he had assembled since 2008.

Future

"The emergence of people like Rory Brennan, Mark Bradley, Conor Meyler, these are the kind of people who have the quality to make a difference on a senior inter-county team," he explained.

"Whereas before, you might have had people who could come in and play some role, but those are players who definitely are starting material in the not-too-distant future.

"There are a good bunch of players across various age groups. You still have Sean Cavanagh, the senior citizen of all, and it's very important that he's there too.

"There are a lot of players at various stages of their development and it's coming together quite well. But it's also results that talk."

Harte is underpinned by a realism too, one that comes with being the country's longest-serving inter-county manager and that was evident when it got down to the here and now of his team's chances.

"Potential's potential, but results say you are fulfilling your potential," he admitted.

"There are lots of things to be answered yet. We're maybe sitting on the cusp of something decent, but one or two games can turn that on its head."

Hyland, too, could reflect on a good spring's work.

Last year, his fourth as Cavan manager, ended in an early Ulster exit and a comprehensive loss to Roscommon in the qualifiers when all the smart money would have been on him walking away from a county whose expectations were raised both by tradition and their recent Ulster Under 21 success.

"You'd hear people talking in the background and other people will say things to you but personally, nobody in the last four years has ever said anything to me that I should be under pressure," he explained.

"Our panels probably weren't as strong at the time so we have a stronger panel, a better balance and we feel that we can push on more at Championship level.

Pride

"It's a bit like peaking a horse for a particular race that you're in, it's very hard to peak and then peak again unless you have the back-up within your system to do that."

There is the possibility of these two meeting in an Ulster semi-final but the unpredictable nature of that particular provincial Championship means neither manager will be too worried about revealing anything of their hand here.

"I don't think you can switch on the winning mentality when it suits," Harte added.

"I think you've got to want to win every game you play in. And if people come to support you they deserve the best, pay through the gates, take pride in the team.

"It's a bad mentality to say any game is less important than another."

Odds: Tyrone 8/15, Draw 8/1, Cavan 2/1

Verdict: Tyrone

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