Mickey Harte happy as Tyrone finally lay some ghosts to rest

Kieran McGeeney says Armagh must learn to deal with suffocating defences

Armagh’s James Morgan, Anthony Duffy and Joe McElroy look on dejected as Tyrone score a late point at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

"Maybe one of these days we won't be seen as a defensive team," said Mickey Harte on the back of a fourth game in a row where Tyrone passed the 20-point mark and kept going. He was satisfied with the day's work he'd just overseen, satisfied but not an awful lot more.

Harte played down Tyrone’s early lead, declaring that they’d stumbled into it before their penalty gave them a cushion. Above all, he was happy that the ghosts of last year’s Mayo game and the 2014 qualifier defeat to Armagh had been laid to rest.

“Obviously these things crossed our minds we prepared for the game today,” he said. “We were very disappointed to lose in Omagh in that game, in that particular year. So yeah, you have to store those things and bring them to use if you can.

“But you can’t depend on that. You have to have quality players who will put their bodies on the line to get you those results. No amount of mental wanting to do that will make that happen, the players have to make it happen.

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“Last year, we do know what it felt like to leave here at this stage last season and we were not happy people. We had put a lot into the year at that point and we had put enough into the year to at least give ourselves a second chance and we didn’t get it.

“That’s soul-destroying when you think of the work that these boys put into it nowadays. So this has been brewing in us for a year and we have been very happy to get back here and give ourselves a chance to be playing football later in August.”

For Kieran McGeeney, it was a day when his team just didn’t get to the pitch of the occasion. The year as a whole has been decent but this was one day of it they’ll hope to forget.

“We played a certain way all year and then when you miss one or two players that can have a bit of an effect on us,” he said. “We didn’t react well to the start. We wanted to move the ball quickly and we didn’t. We got caught up.

“We didn’t commit enough men to attack. We had one or two going forward instead of threes and fours. That left them on their own and they got suffocated. Tyrone are very good at that. It’s something they’ve been working on for a while. Armagh are just going to have to learn how to deal with that and move the ball quicker.

“They are only small margins but they can add up at the end of it. That’s what happened. Any mistake, they pounced on it. I think it was 65 per cent shooting accuracy as well compared to 30 per cent so those things all add up. It wasn’t a good day at the office for the boys but I do believe they are better than that.”

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times