Mickey Harte warns Derry cannot look past Donegal despite Croke Park heroics against Dublin

​Mickey Harte has warned his Derry players their Croke Park heroics against Dublin will count for nothing once the Ulster Senior Football Championship starts against Donegal in three weeks.
Mickey Harte, manager of the Derry senior football team. Photo: George SweeneyMickey Harte, manager of the Derry senior football team. Photo: George Sweeney
Mickey Harte, manager of the Derry senior football team. Photo: George Sweeney

Derry claimed a first Division One title in 16 years with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over the All Ireland champions to cap a superb start to life under Harte. Odhran Lynch was once again Derry's penalty saving hero as spot-kicks from Shane McGuigan, Conor Glass and Ethan Doherty finally secured victory following an epic tussle that saw the Dessie Farrell's team twice grab injury time scores to take the match, first to extra-time and then to penalties.

It was dramatic stuff that will have Oak Leaf fans dreaming but Harte stressed no one should be getting carried away ahead of the provincial championship.

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"It's just a strange day," explained the Derry manager afterwards, "To get ourselves into the positions we did in that game, where we seemed to be in a good position to go on and win; to have that taken from us on two, three, four times - it was devastating in many ways that we didn't finish the game out when we were in strong positions near the close of the game, both in normal time and in extra time.

"Look, it was so important to win the game at the end of all that for us. I think it was more important for us to win than it was for Dublin. We needed the win more because it was going to be a case of we 'put up a good fight but the experience told in the end' or 'the quality of the champions told in the end'. That's what you were going to have to look at and listen to if we hadn't made it.

"Now, it's a fine line between winning that and using it positively for the future, or it being a noose around your neck to say, 'you're the Division One champions, you beat Dublin, Ulster should be your oyster' or 'you should be able to win Ulster'.

"We cannot begin to even think about anybody other than Donegal from this moment in time. We got this title now set aside, but it has to be all focus on Donegal because if we are not prepared and don't play as well as that then it will be an anti-climax in the first round of the Ulster championship."

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