TYRONE manager Mickey Harte said his team had paid the price for missed opportunities as they began their league campaign with defeat to Derry for the second year in succession.
MICHAEL WILSON reports
Fourteen wides - seven in each half - as well as a number of efforts which fell short made it an uphill task for the Red Hands who started the second half trailing 1-07 to 0-05. A vastly improved performance after the introduction of Niall McKenna looked like it might be enough to salvage a draw as they brought Derry back to a point on two different occasions. Each time however, the Oak Leaf 15 responded when they needed to and Tyrone were left to rue their finishing.
“I suppose it is an improved performance (from last year), it’s not as big a margin of defeat, but ultimately it’s the same result. It’s a game played and no points,” explained Harte.
“That’s where we were this time last year as well, and it didn’t augur well for the rest of the league. We have to take stock of that. The effort the boys put in the second half has to be admired. We were down by double scores and needed to do something a bit special in terms of a bit more energy into our game and we go that.
“Our wayward finishing has ultimately what cost us. Between wides, balls kicked into the goalie’s hands and saves by the ‘keeper, I made it about 20 chances that we got no value out of. It’s very difficult to win games when that’s the statistic you’re facing. We’d be happy enough that the boys are creating that number of chances but we have to tidy up on the finishing.”
After last year’s experience, The Tyrone manager was under no illusions that his side need to bounce back quickly.
“I’ve always said, if you don’t get early points, you’re staving off relegation. If you get early points, you’re pointing towards the top of the table. We’re in the former place now. We’re at the basement of the table with no points and even after one game, it doesn’t look pretty. That’s where we are and we have to try and do something about it in future games.
“If you lose your second game, which is what happened us last year, you find yourself in the relegation zone and there’s not many games left to recover. If we do the same again, we’d be looking at a different division, but that wouldn’t be good to think about at this point in time,” he added.