Mickey Harte is more than happy to give Ulster rivals Donegal another chance to study his new look team in the league final after their impressive 2-15 to 2-11 win over Kildare in the Croke Park semi last Sunday.
Tyrone were inspired by veteran forward Stephen O’Neill as they edged out the Leinster men to book a final date with Dublin on Sunday, April 28.
The extra game gives Donegal boss Jim McGuinness another opportunity to spy on Tyrone ahead of their Ulster championship opener in Ballybofey next month, but Harte is none too worried.
He said afterwards, “We want to be winning games and playing competitive matches at this time of year. If that affords someone else the opportunity to look at you, well so be it. I think it’s a better environment to be in.
“Others will view it differently and say they would rather be out of the limelight preparing diligently in the so called long grass. If that suits some people, that’s fine.
“We would be quite happy to be where we are. If we weren’t then why should we be trying to be there? I’m very happy to be there, it’s the first time in 10 years. I’ll take that.”
Captain O’Neill, whose second-half brilliance swung the game in Tyrone’s favor, was singled out by his grateful manager.
“Nobody came close to Stevie to delivering what we needed at the time it was needed. That’s what great players do. They get the scores when they are needed and when the pressure is on,” Harte said.
Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney has called on his team to develop a ruthless streak after they were turned over by Tyrone.
Speaking after his side paid dearly for a series of wides, he said, “It was a good game and we probably had more scoring chances than they did. Even the ones they didn’t have they took. There were two or three points from the sideline. It doesn’t matter what kind of defense you have, you have to give credit to Stephen O’Neill.”
McGeeney is now preparing to trim his squad ahead of the Leinster championship. “We’re top heavy on forwards. It’s something we’ll have to look at,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dermot Earley’s career is in doubt after the Kildare midfielder underwent another back operation last week.
“Dermot’s under a lot of pressure. He had an operation on his back last week and it remains to be seen if it’s successful,” he said.
“His thoughts are probably to do more with walking again. He’s struggling with a lot of pain. He needs time to recuperate. Over the years, he’d have had a lot of wear and tear on his discs. His main priority at the minute is just to have no pain.”
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