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Tyrone are expected to extend Harte's tenure amid underlying unrest

By John Campbell

Published 03/09/2015

Limbo: Mickey Harte wants to carry on but is out of contract
Limbo: Mickey Harte wants to carry on but is out of contract

Even in the immediate aftermath of Tyrone's disappointing loss to Kerry in last month's All-Ireland football semi-final, manager Mickey Harte's commitment to the cause remained unshakable.

Indeed, his enthusiasm, dedication and resolve shone through in a press briefing that was high on honesty and rich in optimism.

"I really enjoy my role and I think there are great players in Tyrone. There is a good mix of young and not so young people in the squad who are very committed athletes and it's a pleasure to work with them. I like that and I am certainly going nowhere," stated Harte.

Such an assessment would naturally spark the belief that a manager's re-appointment should be a formality but not so in Tyrone, apparently.

While Harte must wait to meet the Executive Committee in relation to his future, the suggestion has been made that costs are among factors which are prompting the county board to adopt a softly, softly approach in relation to both the senior and Under-21 management posts.

Figures which have come to light would indicate that the Red Hands are in a healthier position than several other counties despite the fact that their senior football and hurling sides have enjoyed extended seasons and that both the Ulster and All-Ireland U21 football titles were captured.

And the notion that the outstanding debt on the county's magnificent Centre of Excellence at Garvaghey is a financial millstone is being discounted.

It is understood £400,000 has been spent to date this year on the preparation of county teams while the outstanding debt on the £7m Garvaghey project totals £1.1m.

With Club Tyrone, the PR and Marketing arm of the GAA in the county, raising some £440,000 in each of the past two years, the cash needed to fuel operations within the county is available.

While finance isn't viewed as a stumbling block in terms of managerial appointments, there would appear to be an undercurrent of unrest within the county.

With Peter Canavan having hinted that there are elements within the county which would have been happy to see Kerry beat Tyrone and ongoing general disappointment that there is still a stand-off in terms of relations with RTE, it would appear that the way has not exactly been smoothed for what would be Harte's 14th season at the helm.

Tyrone's arrival in the semi-finals and Fermanagh's gate-crashing of the quarter-finals illuminated the summer, but his reluctance to engage with RTE in terms of interviews or to make players available to them is a cause for concern within the Red Hand county.

Harte is taking what he believes is a principled stand although others see this as potentially damaging to Tyrone's image.

For the first time since his appointment in late 2002, Harte did not have a pre-agreed extension to his term in place with the county board and thus he now finds himself in limbo, but one high-placed source in Tyrone reveals that "it will be a major surprise" if Harte is not re-instated for another term - at least.

"Mickey is among the longest-serving managers in the game and as far as I can see, there are only some i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed," pointed out the source.

"When you think about it, less than six months ago we were struggling but Mickey has helped to give us a new lease of life."

Dublin will have to plan without Diarmuid Connolly for the All-Ireland semi-final replay against Mayo, after the Central Hearings Committee upheld his red card from last Sunday.

The St Vincent's man was sent off deep in injury time of the drawn encounter by referee Joe McQuillan.

He had become embroiled in a tussle with Mayo's Lee Keegan and the two men went to ground, where it appeared Connolly attempted to strike Keegan.

On the advice of his linesman, the Cavan referee ordered Connolly off.

This was the second time that Connolly had been up before a Hearings Committee in the closing stages of the All-Ireland Championships, having been cleared to play in the 2011 final against Kerry after an altercation with Donegal's Marty Boyle had also resulted in a red card during their semi-final.

However, this time he was not shown the same leniency.

Belfast Telegraph

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