Mickey Harte and Tyrone beaten all ends up
‘Dublin were far superior today. That’s a fact we have to accept’
Tyrone’s manager Mickey Harte before the game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Four minutes. Half the length of this Mickey Harte press conference to sift through the wreckage of a sad day for Tyrone football was all Dublin needed.
Met quite a storm today, Mickey? “Aye, that’s for sure,” Harte began.
“I do believe the critical score was the goal. Until that time it could have been a face-off to half-time. If the goal had not been scored we might not have conceded so many points.”
The first goal, by Con O’Callaghan after four minutes, came from nothing. A Niall Sludden error lost possession around the middle and that meant Tyrone’s 14-man defensive structure was not in place (they also pressed forward with 14).
“After that goal the game was played on their terms not ours . . . it left us open to more sufferance at the back.”
Sufferance is what Dublin do.
“Look, it wasn’t going to hide the truth that Dublin were far superior today. That’s a fact we have to accept.”
The last link to the good old days has passed. To when Seán Cavanagh was young and ran the end line to heap misery on Dublin in an equally packed Croke Park. With those memories, there now goes a Tyrone legend.
The captain, the five-time All Star, three time All-Ireland winner, who was pulled into retirement by Harte on 55 minutes.
“How long have you got? Seán Cavanagh is with these Tyrone seniors as long as I am . He has been a faithful servant. He has given so much and has so many accolades to prove his value. We would hope we could have given him another day to finish his career. But I don’t think he will walk away from Gaelic football, with all that he has achieved, with many regrets. Particularly not in Tyrone.”
Considering none from Diarmuid Connolly, Paul Flynn, Bernard Brogan, Michael Darragh Macauley, Kevin McManamon and Eoghan O’Gara can command a starting berth, and that Brogan and Macauley didn’t feature here at all, Harte ventured this might be the greatest Dublin team of them all.
“Well, it’s the best Dublin team that I have ever faced in my championship career at senior level. You have to give them that now. I wasn’t sure of that before today but I am now.”
And Mayo, Mickey, do they have a prayer?
“People have been writing Mayo off all year. They have been on the ropes so many times and they are still standing. They had two mighty contests with Dublin last year so it would be foolish to write Mayo off but the standard Dublin played at today, I believe, will make them very hard to beat.”
Harte fully intends to lead Tyrone into the 2018 championship.
“I do expect to still be here but it is not in my hands. Somebody else might choose to do something different and that’s their prerogative but at this point in time I have no intention of walking away.”