Harte picks positives from a big season for the Shamrocks

Mark Harte, Roslea Joint Manager.  DP65

Mark Harte, Roslea Joint Manager

Mark Harte is a remarkably balanced man.

He has just watched his men come second best in his first match as manager in the Ulster senior football championship, but he has the perspective to step back and see the bigger picture.

“The dust hasn’t settled on this defeat just yet and we’re just taking time to lick our wounds I suppose and we’ve no decision made on next year yet,” said Harte.

“But what I can say about every man in that changing room is they’ve done something in Fermanagh football that hasn’t been done in an awful long time this year. They won the senior league and the senior championship, they won the junior league and the  junior championship and if that’s a mark of anything it’s a mark of the hunger and desire these men have.

“Everybody in Roslea should be rightly proud of their achievements this year. We didn’t do ourselves justice today. That’s one day and I don’t think it accurately reflects the season we’ve had, but you have to deliver on the day and we didn’t do that in the first half unfortunately.”

Roslea failed to score in the first half, but were just five points down as the half time whistle loomed and, given the Shamrocks’ propensity for goals, were still very much in the game.

“We know we started pretty sluggishly,” said Harte. “But the idea was to stay in the game.

“Approaching half time we would have taken five nil, because we felt that as the half wore on we improved. They got a couple of debatable scores I suppose,  and we felt we had maybe one or two frees. Five two, five three was a different game. The penalty was a big turning point in the game, it left them with an eight point advantage at half time.

“But again, Ulster club football is very funny, and from my own experience I know that big turnarounds can happen. The boys would have felt that they maybe didn’t deliver what they would have liked in the first half so all we asked for was a performance we could be proud of coming out at the end of the game and I think we did that. We won the second half, we probably just left ourselves with too much to do after the first half. That’ s something we’re just going to have to stew on over the winter.”

Harte had no particular qualms about the way St Eunan’s went about their business. Sean Hensey was brought back to help with the double marking on Seamus Quigley and, at times, Roslea forwards were triple marked.

Harte has seen a bit of Donegal championship in the past while and understands that every attempt at the posts is hard won and must be made count. Patience is a virtue, but so is economy.

In a game where scoring opportunities were hard come by, referee Ronan Barry didn’t exactly go out of his way to give Roslea scoreable chances.

“When you’re the losing team you always look to those wee decisions,” said Harte. “But I am not going to place any blame at the feet of the referee. He’s there to do a job, and it’s not an easy job. We definitely felt there was one or two decisions that could have gone our way but that’s football and that’s life and you have to be honest about the thing. In my mind St Eunan’s deserved to win the game today. A decision or two would have got us very much in the hunt, but it didn’t go our way today and that’s just something we have to accept.”

There were a few positives to pull from the game for Roslea. The first was the sight of Sean Quigley playing 60 minutes of football and, to all appearances, playing fluently and without sign of injury.

“He had done absolutely nothing up until about a week and a half ago and then he started to show signs of improvement’” said Harte. “Our thinking a couple of weeks ago was he had no chance of playing. He’s been getting intense physiotherapy treatment from a couple of different people there that has brought him on.

“We were at a training session last weekend and he took part in a bit of it and was fit to twist and turn. We then realised that today was an option for him. A player of his quality you give him every minute you can. We came here today to see how much he could do in the warm up and he said he felt good so we let him at it. He did have a double team and triple team at times on him, but he didn’t give up, he just kept going and that’s a credit to Sean that he kept battling to the end.”

The other positive was Roslea’s defensive solidity. Although St Eunan’s tried to hit hard and often on the counter, the Fermanagh men were never ripped asunder and the defensive first principles that have served the Shamrocks so well this season provide a sound basis to build on as they look to 2015.

“Yes that’s true,” agrees Harte.

“Ultimately we’re trying to encourage everyone to be an attacking player when we have the ball and a defensive player when we don’t have the ball. That doesn’t happen overnight, but I have to give all credit to the players, they’ve bought into everything we’ve brought this year.

“They know they’re already in a good set up where they’ve had good habits for a number of years now. All we’ve tried to do is one or two tweaks here and there. They haven’t given us a minute of bother and in Fermanagh domestic football they’ve got the rewards that their hard work and effort deserved.”


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