Mickey Harte: Manager defends modern game and says Tyrone 'unfairly tarnished'

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Tyrone manager Mickey Harte insists modern gaelic football is in rude health
Ulster Championship: Derry v Tyrone
Date: Sunday, 28 May Venue: Celtic Park Throw-in: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Two NI; Live text and radio on BBC Sport website & commentary on Radio Ulster medium wave

Mickey Harte has made an impassioned defence of modern day gaelic football and has insisted his Tyrone team are unfairly judged by many pundits.

Harte strongly disagrees with the widespread view that the game has become "over-defensive".

"Some people are stuck in some kind of time warp where players should line out as in the match programme," he said.

"Life has moved on. People are not driving Ford Anglia cars any more. They move on. Gaelic Games moves on too."

Red Hands start Ulster defence against Derry

Harte's Tyrone start the defence of their Ulster title against Derry at Celtic Park on Sunday.

Last weekend's two one-sided opening Ulster matches gave naysayers more ammunition to criticise the current game but the Tyrone boss believes the debate is being dominated by those voices who use their profile to shout the loudest.

"People need to take themselves out of the past and live in the present and accept that this is the best that is about at the minute," Harte told BBC Sport Northern Ireland's Mark Sidebottom.

"We really shouldn't listen to those people who keep saying (critical) things even though they say them with conviction. Saying something with conviction doesn't make it right.

"Last year's Ulster Final between ourselves and Donegal was as good a game as I have ever been involved in.

"Some people can't see it that way. But I'm not responsible for how they view life or what lens they look at football through.

"Would you like the alternative where you go to a game and a team like Dublin have somebody plastered by 15 points by half-time? What value is there sitting through the second half of that.

"I'd rather see a game like last year's Ulster Final where nobody knew who was going to win until near the end."

Brian Mullins is about to tackle Jack O'Shea in the 1985 All-Ireland Final
Dublin's Brian Mullins and Kerry's Jack O'Shea in action in the 1985 All-Ireland Final

Harte says the past 'was no golden age'

Harte insists a perusal of match videos from previous decades would also give the lie to the notion that the past was a "golden age of football".

"Back in the day, we didn't see any football on television until perhaps the highlights of the Ulster Championship, then the All-Ireland semi-final, if you were lucky, and the All-Ireland Final.

"If we would want to look back at those games, not all of them were high-class encounters, where skill was at the highest level."

Harte also believes many of the pundits eulogising last month's Division One Football League final between Kerry and Dublin were doing so with something of a jaundiced eye as they lauded an "open game of football".

"Go back and look at that game with some degree of forensic analysis. Several times, there were 14 players in their own half behind the ball, for both teams.

"If you get the name of an early riser, you can lie to dinner time as the old saying goes.

"I'm afraid some teams have that ability now and others are tarnished with a particular way of playing even though they don't play that way."

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Modern day gaelic football's critics 'stuck in in time warp' - Mickey Harte

Harte has faith in Tyrone attack

Tyrone's poor finish to the league in the Spring led to more commentary about how the lack of a "marquee forward" in the mould of a Peter Canavan, Stephen O'Neill or Owen Mulligan is preventing a Reds Hand breakthrough at All-Ireland level.

Harte dubs that view as "narrow-minded".

"We didn't always have a Peter Canavan, or a Stephen O'Neill or an Owen Mulligan. We didn't always have them at the one time.

"Not every team in the country has someone of that calibre at any given time at the peak of their careers. It's a very narrow way of looking at things.

"It's not about individuals. It's a team game. The idea here is to get the best group of players, playing together to the best of their ability in a way that works well for the team. I think we are very capable of doing that."

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