You'd nearly be worried listening to Mickey Harte's words if you were from Dublin 5 years ago

You'd nearly be worried listening to Mickey Harte's words if you were from Dublin

Mickey Harte had every right to be fuming on Saturday.

Tyrone ate up the yards of Croke Park like it was mere inches of a back garden that they cover for fun every day of their lives.

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They strutted around its hallowed plains like they belonged there.

They lived up to the description that Armagh legend Stevie McDonnell had for them on The GAA Hour - that they've got an arrogance, that they fear no-one, that they believe they can win.

They were brilliant against Dublin in the league this weekend. Yet they didn't win.

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They ran at the champions like very few would even half dare to.

They found holes, they washed over their backline, and they went for the posts for respect only for their own talents.

They suffocated them at the other end. Mickey Harte's outfit wrapped a vice-like grip around the most fearsome attack in Ireland and they restricted them to three first half scores. Eight scores in 70 minutes.

And they did that with 14 men for 20 of those minutes.

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Before Joe McQuillan brandished Mark Bradley with a straight red for God knows what on the 50th minute, the Red Hand outfit were five points to the good.

No-one seemed to spot what happened - not at the stadium, not on any of the replays. The Tyrone forward was sent off and that was that. The Ulster champions were in cruise control at the time too. 1-6 to 0-4, they were strangling the Dubs and slicing through them with pure disregard for their achievements and reputation.

Niall Sludden doesn't care about what Dublin have done. He believes in his own dynamite talent. He only cares about how he can weave and dart and burst into spaces with frightening conviction. It's the same right the way through the team. That's why they score goals at Croker with a corner forward starting the move in the full back line and a defender, Aidan McRory, finishing it off at the other end.

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Speed. Energy. Organisation.

Dublin mounted a serious comeback - the sort that you perform when you're on a 31-game unbeaten league and championship run - but Tyrone deserved their win and they should feel aggrieved.

They lost Tiernan McCann early on too to a black card and some of their fans were fuming afterwards. Mickey Harte had his say on both decisions with eir Sport afterwards but he couldn't have been more complimentary of Dublin.

It was almost like he wasn't too hurt not to have beaten them on a rainy Saturday night in February. Almost like he had bigger plans for Dublin.

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"Dublin haven't been beaten in a long time. Their unbeaten run goes to 31," Mickey said with class.

"We had a chance of ending that tonight but we didn't do it and I suppose that shows you the resilience within the champions that they are."

The majority of headlines from that interview will probably focus on Mickey Harte taking another swipe at "this wonderful black card". But you could see an almost wry smile on his face throughout the interview. You could see that he wasn't struggling too badly with the draw - that he might even know now that his side are ready now.

Harte isn't afraid to speak his mind and, when he's unhappy or feeling aggrieved, by God you'll know all about it. But, here, he just continued his assault of flattery on Dublin.

"They're the champions. The league champions. The All-Ireland champions," Harte said.

"They take some beating and we did our best to do it tonight and we didn't quite succeed.

"You have to hand it to Dublin. They're a wonderful side and that's why they've won so much over the last number of years."

He wouldn't do that if he thought Saturday night was the last chance they'll get to beat them. Tyrone will meet Dublin again. And, if this showing is anything to go by, they'll probably damn well topple them.

You just get the feeling that Mickey Harte knows that too.