By Niall McCoy
FORMER Tyrone defender Justin McMahon believes that Mickey Harte can add a fourth All-Ireland title to his collection before he ends his involvement with the Red Hand county.
Harte will lead Tyrone into championship football for the 18th time when the season belatedly gets underway in a few months’ time, and the 2008 Allstar is confident that he can bring Sam Maguire back to the county once again over the next few seasons.
“Mickey’s record speaks for itself and you have to admire his motivation and his drive,” said McMahon, who played full-back in the county’s last All-Ireland success in 2008.
“He keeps bringing back a team that is successful and that continues to knock on the door. They are very close to that top success again.
“Getting to the final in 2018 was another example of what Mickey can do. They just scraped through the Meath game and people wouldn’t have given them a chance, but they found a way to get to the final to give themselves a chance at the All-Ireland.
“Mickey is fantastic at navigating the path to the latter stages, whether that’s through Ulster or through the backdoor.
“Where can you buy that knowledge? Where can you buy that ability?”
McMahon also believes that the county’s recent success at underage level will provide the perfect opportunity to reel in six-in-a-row chasing Dublin.
The Red Hands won an All-Ireland U-17 title three years ago while their u-20s have claimed back-to-back Ulster titles.
McMahon said that the current panel just needs the injection of a few fresh faces to really push towards the ultimate goal of another All-Ireland title.
“I would have played with a lot of those boys and I’d have nothing but admiration for them,” he said.
“They put in an unbelievable amount of work and dedicate a lot of time to their trade and to their county.
“I would love to see those boys achieve All-Ireland success. They have been fantastic in Ulster and have achieved success there, and I do have great confidence in Tyrone.
“The players are there and then you have All-Ireland winning teams coming through from recent underage sides. There are going to be players pushing to get in.
“I have full confidence that they will continue to knock on the door.
“Dublin are obviously the team to beat, there is no hiding from that, but this Tyrone team, they have the ability.
“They were fantastic against Dublin a couple of years ago (2018 All-Ireland final) and they showed that they are capable of playing at that level.
“It’s just building on that and building on what they had been doing in the league.”