Mickey Harte told his Tyrone players to ‘change the script’ at half-time today in Ballybofey – and they penned a new chapter to gun down Donegal.
By Chris McNulty in Ballybofey
Michael Murphy’s goal, in the dying moments of the first half, gave Donegal the advantage at the interval, when they led 1-6 to 0-6.
Hugh McFadden’s effort is blocked by Tyrone’s Kieran McGeary during Sunday’s game. Photo Evan Logan
Everything pointed to a Donegal win when they led by four points in the 54th minute – but Tyrone soon began to gain a foothold, with Harte’s half-time words still chiming.
“We’ve been through enough good battles this year to maybe be in a better position to deal with it,” Harte said.
“We’ve had our hurts, we’ve had our defeats, we’ve had our near misses, and we just knew that today we really had to try to make history for ourselves – and I think we’ve done that.
“We came back with points ourselves and it was evident that we weren’t going to lie down, it was going to be a battle to the end – and we felt if it was a battle to the end.”
Harte called Murphy’s goal ‘a sucker punch’ but, crucially, he sensed a ‘resilience’ about the away dressing room.
He said: “We knew that this was not ‘throw in the towel’ time. This didn’t need to be like it was here a few times before, we could change the script. The boys were very, very resilient in their attempts to do that.
“Sometimes you can finish as strong as that and not get the scores you want, but we did get the scores along with it as well. I suppose the big thing was that we managed the fact that we had the sucker blow before half-time of their goal and a point after it.”
The tide turned when Harry Loughran, who had earlier been thwarted by a fine block by Ryan McHugh, latched onto a dropping ball from Tiernan McCann to goal in the 63rd minute. Declan McClure added a second late in the game, but Loughran’s was the one that pinched the Donegal pockets and broke Dclan Bonner’s men.
Harte said: “When we got our goal back that levelled the psychology of that process and I felt we rose to the occasion after that.”
Not for the first time under Harte, Tyrone have rallied after a defeat to pounce back in style.
An Ulster defeat to Monaghan was followed by Tyrone needing a late surge to get extra time against Meath when their summer seemed to be on the verge of collapse.
Their heads were shook clear and the Red Hands are 70 minutes from returning to the All-Ireland final again.
Harte said: “We have some kind of capacity to do that alright. I would not like to be depending on it, I would like to still win a few Ulster titles and go through the front door but there is something about it that our team seems to embrace.
“They don’t get too annoyed about the defeat they have suffered and they tend to learn from it and now this season they have got to learn from two defeats and we are still playing so that is all good.”
Tyrone’s supporters ignored what had been a rather hopeful announcement from the PA operator, Fergus McGee, to stay off the field as the swamped onto the pitch at the end.
But, with just seven days until they take on Monaghan in the semi-final, Harte was keen to urge calm and caution.
He said: “The big thing we have to get our feet back on the ground because players have no control over what happened at the end of the match today.
“The supporters just flowed on to that field and were so euphoric and we wouldn’t want to get caught up in that euphoria because there are no cups handed out today, no titles won, no medals.
“It’s just a stepping stone to the semi-final of the All-Ireland, semi-final is a dangerous place to be – beaten semi-finalists are forgotten very quickly.”Tags: