Tyrone senior football manager Mickey Harte has requested the county board to proceed as planned with all matches and off-field activities — and for a very special reason.
Play on: Mickey Harte says his daughter Michaela would have wanted Tyrone to continue playing
“I feel sure that this is what my beloved Michaela would have wanted,” said the distraught father as he awaits the arrival home of the remains of his 27-year-old daughter who was murdered in Mauritius on Monday.
Michaela and her husband John McAreavey had been married for just 12 days when the tragedy struck but while her father and mother Marion, along with brothers Mark, Matthew and Michael are consumed with grief, they have taken time to issue a message of encouragement to the county board.
“Michaela would have wanted things to continue as normally as possible and I feel that Tyrone would be honouring her wishes if they proceed with their planned activities in the interim,” added the triple All-Ireland winning boss.
The iconic manager’s message has been welcomed by officials in Tyrone including county chairman Ciaran McLaughlin, PRO Damien Harvey and Club Tyrone chairman Hugh McAleer.
Omagh accountant McAleer spearheads the fund-raising Club Tyrone body which is currently immersed in acquiring capital funding for the ambitions new Garvaghey complex which is located close to the Harte family home.
McAleer said it was “a true measure of the man” that even in the midst of his grief Mickey Harte still had thought for others.
“We know he would want to see the GAA programme continue but obviously much will depend on when Michaela’s remains come home. While our match with Fermanagh in Enniskillen on Sunday is still on, circumstances could still mean a change and he are prepared for this if necessary,” said McAleer.
“Nothing has ever been too much trouble for Mickey and Michaela in terms of helping Tyrone. Last year he travelled in a voluntary capacity with me and Mark Conway on behalf of Club Tyrone on a fund-raising exercise to the United States and it was uplifting to have been in his company for those few days.”
PRO Harvey has said that the GAA family in the county will take great considerable heart from the manager’s ‘business as usual’ plea.
“People are so burdened with grief that engaging in GAA activity even in a small way might prove therapeutic. Michaela was so well-known throughout the county that people will be keen to honour her wishes. She was a very special person and she has left a rich legacy behind her,” said Harvey.
County chairman McLaughlin has reported that Tyrone has been “flooded with e-mails” containing messages of sympathy.
“And a lot of these have come from people in counties like Kerry and Armagh with whom we have had great championship battles over the course of the last seven years since Mickey Harte took over. He was highly-respected by his counterparts and Michaela had won her way into the affections of followers of every county,” stated McLaughlin.
Ulster Council officials confirmed last night that they will liaise with Tyrone in relation to the staging of Sunday’s game should circumstances change in the meantime.
“The Ulster Council has said that it will work with us on this and we are very grateful for this. Obviously there is now a wish within the county to have the match played but we must remember that Tyrone are also due to play on next Wednesday and the following weekend as well in the McKenna Cup. A lot of factors may have to be taken into the equation before any final decisions are made,” said McLaughlin.