Highly disappointing end to a reasonable season: Harte

By Michael McMullan

MICKEY Harte said Derry’s season was “reasonable” but came to a “highly disappointing” end after bowing out of the All-Ireland race on Sunday at Croke Park.

The sides were level in the 52nd minute of Sunday’s quarter-final before Kerry twice pushed into two separate four-point leads before winning by five to end the Oakleafers’ championship.

Harte steered Derry to the McKenna Cup and National League titles in his first season before being dumped out of the Ulster Championship by Donegal.

The former Tyrone and Louth boss was speaking after coming from a “sombre” dressing room to address the media.

“I’d say it was reasonable,” the Derry boss summed up of season, highlighted their National League title.

“It was disappointing in Ulster in the Championship, disappointing in the group games but the fact that we survived to reach a quarter-final, I suppose, makes it reasonable as well…but obviously, highly disappointing.

“We did intend to be back for a few more games here, at least one, maybe two, and that’s not happening,” Harte added.

“That’s very disappointing because it’s a long time to the beginning of the new season and it looks so far away now for everybody involved but that’s life and sport.

Harte also spoke of the “challenge” getting back to the level they found themselves in on their last game at Headquarters, their penalty shoot-out win over Dublin in the league final.

“We took a few games in the last few weeks to get a bit of confidence back again and I thought that confidence was very much back on the back of the result against Mayo,” Harte said of their mind-set coming to Croke Park on Sunday.

“We were meeting an established team (Kerry) who are no strangers to All-Ireland quarter-finals, semi-finals and winning them.

“We had a tough battle and I felt that we did well up to the 60th minute …keeping in touch, when you consider that we held David Clifford and Sean O’Shea to a pretty meagre return for their standards.

“You would have thought we had a reasonable chance of finishing the game out but I suppose we weren’t efficient enough and clinical enough ourselves and it’s not hard to guess that 10 points won’t win many championship matches in Croke Park.”

It was Kerry who pushed on in the final quarter before running out 0-15 to 0-10 winners with substitutes Killian Spillane and Dylan Geaney notching points.

Kerry were coming in without the baggage of having an additional preliminary quarter-final game. On the other hand, Derry needed to go the distance to see off Mayo in Castlebar.

“Look, when you lose in this situation, it’s easy to make those things a reality or a narrative that fits well,” Harte said of Kerry’s impact off the bench.

“I can’t say for certain because I felt that we were okay going into the game.” he added of Derry’s quick turnaround from Castlebar.

“People pick up their injuries or niggles and all the rest of it and they get over it and they try to go on.

“So, because Kerry pulled away, it seemed to be that you could suggest that but I’m not sure. I think if we’d been more clinical, as I say, with our own possession, then the gap wouldn’t have widened and it could have been a nip and tuck game to the very end.

“I feel that if we’d have kept it as a point game or no more than that at any stage, we’d have felt pretty good going into the last two or three minutes.

“Once it started to open out into three points against a team like Kerry and the way the modern game is played, people can keep ball and you’ve got to go after it.

“If you go after it, it takes a lot more energy to go after it and you’re more prone to leaving yourself open at the back.

“If you allow yourself to be in a place where you need scores in a short space of time at the end of a game now, then you’re going to have a lot of trouble a lot of the time.”


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