Tyrone manager, Mickey Harte
Tyrone manager, Mickey Harte, admitted that Tyrone had a bad day at the office in MacCumhaill Park.
"That’s for sure, again you might say that or you might say it was a good night for Donegal. They played with all the quality and all the guile that we’ve been accustomed to see them do. They’ve lost a number of their senior players but they haven’t changed the way they play, they are a very efficient team and they very much know what they’re doing. Tonight they didn’t put a foot wrong."
He agreed that Tyrone had started slowly and were poor in second half. "That’s true, that’s what we have to look back on and it’s not a pretty sight from our perspective. But again we didn’t help ourselves, we didn’t manage the conditions very well, we didn’t take the limited chances that came our way.
“We didn’t take the chances in the same area of the field where Donegal pinged three points from early on in the game.
“If we had taken them, it would have put pressure on them but we didn’t do that. Everything we seemed to hit in that second half went the wrong side of the posts.
" We need to chip away at those scores to give ourselves some kind of lifeline, that didn’t happen so you have to live with the consequences. As I say, they were much more efficient and probably played with the control of the game the way they wanted it to be. We couldn’t really break their stranglehold on it after that. I think we got it to four-all at one stage and that’s about as good as it got for us on the night."
Asked if the Tyrone lads weren't up for it, he didn't agree.
"Well, I don’t think they weren’t trying but it was just one of those nights where things weren’t working for them. Their decision making just seemed to be not quite what you’d expect it to be and when that sets in; kind of a bit of a malaise comes with it. After one misplaced pass and another and another and Donegal are picking off a few points in the meantime, that’s hard to get out of – especially against a team like Donegal. We all know playing a team like Donegal you have to be with them step for step. If you give them a lead they are very good at protecting it and it’s very hard to break them down. You have to say the players tried very hard and the conditions that were there really didn’t suit our running game as well as a good dry sod would do. But those are the conditions we had to play under and we didn’t manage it very well. The end result is we got a bad beating and we have to live with that."
The Tyrone manager didn't agree either that it was a reality check for his team.
"Hmm…hopefully for you boys that thought that. We didn’t think that! That’s a reality check for you people that write these stories, we would never suggest that. We would suggest that Ulster is always as hard as its ever been and anyone that would suggest at this stage that somebody has a right to win it; they would be not very well aware of Ulster football.
"I don’t think you can come to conclusions like that on any one game. On the night Donegal looked a very good side and if they keep up that kind of form for the rest of the season then your speculation will be very accurate. But I’ll wait and see; it’s too early yet to be deciding. We wouldn’t like to think that people would be suggesting that we are world-beaters at this stage of the year, we think are a decent team and we think we will be difficult to beat as the year goes on. But none of us have a crystal ball and as the season unfolds we’ll be better armed to make those kind of decisions."
The result means that Donegal, Tyrone and Dublin are top of the table. "There’s where it’s at, everybody has got two games left and they’ll try to make the best of those two games and we’ll be no different. Certainly if you want to be in the final you would suggest that you would need to win your two games and it’s a tall order considering that it’s Mayo and Kerry we have to play. That’s where we are, we hopefully are not in a relegation fight again and I hope that isn’t the case. That’s always our first aim in Division 1, particularly when we are just back in it so I think maybe that we have that out of the way it’s a case of trying to do the best you can to pick up any points available and there’s four more available, and we have to go after them with all that we have."
Harte said that it always disappointing when team doesn't play well: "You are always disappointed when you don’t perform the way you think you should and the way you think your team is capable of performing. Yes, that’s always disappointing. It’s disappointing for us on the line and the players who are involved in it. That’s life, we can’t change that. We can sort of sum it up and make our observations about it but that’s history now and we can’t change what happened. All we can do is endeavour to change what might happen next week and the week after, and if we go to work on that and find some way of improving our performance across 70 minutes then we’d be happy enough that the first part of the season would be ok for us.
"I wouldn’t even say the first half, I’d say the second half was probably more disappointing. I think obviously the last 10 minutes of the first half was the most disappointing because we were living off scraps to a degree and not being that far behind early in the game. But once they sort of picked off a few and it went to five points at half time, with the conditions out there that was a serious lead. So I’d be disappointed that we let it slip to a very difficult position in the last 10 minutes of the first half. Otherwise I suppose we were battling well with limited scoring opportunities and that’s the bottom line. We did not convert enough of the chances that we got and I think Donegal were very efficient with the ones they got."
Asked if there were any positives: "The positives are that we are still near the top end of the league and not the bottom end of it, and if we want to be in the final it’s in our own hands. That’s always a good thing to be thinking of.
"Well, what do you expect me to say? Certain individuals at certain phases of the game did many good things but we didn’t do enough of it across the entire game. This thing about positives, it’s a bit of a clichéd sort of question at this stage. The fact of the matter is we are hugely disappointed that we didn’t get any point out of the game tonight and it will take time to reflect on where we might find something to be happy about."
Asked if there was a long term plan to play Mattie Donnelly and Sean Cavanagh in the full-forward line: "Well, it’s not necessarily sort of set in stone. They are both playing in the front line or at least the numbers suggest it, but if you watch the game you’ll see that both of they don’t spend a lot of their time in the front line. They could alternate in and out, one could be out and the other could be in or the two of them could be out – it’s not a perfect formula any more. The game is very fluid and you try to make the best of the players you have in the positions you think they will be most effective and that’s always a changing scene if you like."
Asked if he was thinking about the summer: "No, I wouldn’t be thinking about the summer at all, I’m just thinking about each game as it comes and we have to be looking at every game; reflect on it and see what worked for us and what didn’t and take account of all the variable factors that are present in any performance. Then we can try and do something about the things that we think would help us to be better," said Harte, who said that Darren McCurry missed out because of a sore back, but it was nothing major.