Harte says absence of Brogan and Connolly could weaken Dublin

Tyrone boss believes loss of experienced duo will leave champions more vulnerable

Mickey Harte with Dublin boss Jim Gavin at Croke Park. “New ones, no matter how talented they may be, they don’t have the experience, the guile of the boys they are replacing.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The 12-point margin between Dublin and Tyrone on August 27th last year is doing little to deter Mickey Harte’s typically unshakeable belief that his side are among the group that can unseat the Dubs as they seek their fourth consecutive All-Ireland title.

Speaking at the launch of the Ulster senior football championship in the O’Neill’s Superstore in Strabane, Harte rejected the feeling of fatalism that has enveloped the All-Ireland championship, with Jim Gavin’s side installed as 4/6 favourites to sweep all in front of them this season.

“I wouldn’t subscribe to that fatalism,” said Harte. “No team lasts forever. Now, some teams do take a lot longer to get rid of than you would like if you are from a different county,” he continued.

“But Dublin are in pole position. They deserve to be where they are. They are a serious outfit. But there has to come a time when they can be beaten. I hope that we are one of the ones that are around when that happens.”


The ongoing absence of Diarmuid Connolly from Gaelic games of any kind, at any level, coupled with the cruciate injury suffered by Bernard Brogan in February, has left the Dubs in a vulnerable state, Harte believes.

“I think that is the case. I think whenever you keep winning, and the people have the medals, it is hard to see them all having the hunger to want more and sometimes you can’t replace the old hands. New ones, no matter how talented they may be, they don’t have the experience, the guile of the boys they are replacing. There is a wee window of opportunity, where they may be a wee bit below the high standards of where they have been over the past couple of years. We can only hope.”

While Tyrone gear up for their Ulster quarter-final against Monaghan on May 20th – in what is sure to be a full capacity Healy Park with the game not being shown live on television – Harte is concerned about the fitness of forward Lee Brennan, who emerged as their leading scorer throughout the National League. The Trillick man pullled up in Sunday’s league game against Donaghmore.

“Lee got a hamstring issue yesterday,” Harte revealed. “We don’t know the full detail of it but I think he came off as soon as he found out so that is always good.”

A scan

Harte added that he hadn’t a scan on the injury scare.

“He is seeing the physios tonight [Monday]. He has been talking to them and from speaking to them it doesn’t appear to be a serious hamstring injury and the fact that he came off as soon as he found it is promising that it is not too serious.

“Probably, they will look at it tomorrow night and look to see what they think after they do a wee bit of work on it.”

Another area of concern is Colm Cavanagh’s ongoing quad issue, which has kept the current All-Star largely out of action since his run to All-Ireland Intermediate glory with the Moy.

“He is still not right and he hasn’t trained fully with the team. He is definitely under pressure to be ready. I am still not giving up hope and would love to see him at a more advanced stage than he is. It is not a case where it is lost yet, but it is under pressure.”

By and large, Tyrone negotiated their ‘club-only’ month of April well, with Tiernan McCann returning to play the entire game for Killyclogher against the Moy on Sunday, his first action since he was forced off against Kildare in the National League with a broken kneecap.

“Tiernan McCann is back in business, he played a bit yesterday so he was back training with us last week,” Harte revealed.

“He is happy that he is over the injury part of it. He is not concerned about that, it is his lack of match fitness I suppose is his only problem. I suppose a club game yesterday and he will play on Friday night, which will help to get a wee bit of that behind him too.”

Tyrone head to Carton House this weekend for a training camp.