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Harte impasse puzzling with Ulster sides preparing to rebuild

By Declan Bogue

Published 21/09/2016

Four more years: Rory Gallagher
Four more years: Rory Gallagher

Watching the All-Ireland final back at this remove, and even that stirring classic between Kerry and Dublin from a few weeks ago, leads to the thought: just how far back are Ulster's finest?

Perhaps it is not that much. After all, consider the case of Tyrone this year. Widely tipped as the team with the best chance of unseating Dublin, they brought too little fury and adventure to win their All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo.

And yet, despite being a man down in the closing stages and with Mayo ahead by a point, they still manufactured three chances to equalise in injury-time - three chances that were nowhere near as difficult as the wonder points Sean Cavanagh and Peter Harte hit to clinch the Ulster crown.

Elsewhere, there is clear evidence that other counties are knuckling down for a period of rebuilding.

On Monday night, Rory Gallagher was approved for another four years in charge of Donegal on an overwhelming vote. That sort of arrangement was previously very uncommon in the GAA, but has become increasingly more prevalent since Kieran McGeeney insisted on a five-year term with Armagh at the end of 2014.

It's a similar story in Monaghan. Few people expected Malachy O'Rourke to remain with the Oriel County this season after four years. But the shrewd man from Derrylin surprised us all by taking the job until the end of the 2019 season.

Last night, the agreement between Damian Barton and Derry just covered next season. It appears that he is not interested in a project, which is fine, but right now the Oak Leafs seem to be treading water.

The prime job in Ulster right now is Cavan. With a team full of promise, any potential manager would want a few years at the helm.

The frontrunner at this point appears to be former Galway hurling boss Anthony Cunningham.

Meanwhile, the clubs in Tyrone refuse to give Mickey Harte another year beyond next season.

The whole thing strikes us as being a bit mad.

Belfast Telegraph

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