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Harte has golden touch, as St Ronan’s rewarded for their class

By Declan Bogue

Four years after he was inducted into the Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame, Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte has claimed the Gold Award for Manager/Coach of the Year.

After guiding Tyrone to the All-Ireland Gaelic football final where they were narrowly beaten by Dublin, the Errigal Ciaran clubman saw off stiff competition from Gary Marshall from the show-jumping world, Taekwondo’s Peter Stewart and Sommer Lecky’s high jump coach Niall Wilkinson.

Tyrone overcame an Ulster Championship quarter-final defeat by Monaghan to go down the qualifiers route and it was a real rollercoaster ride that took in wins over Meath, Carlow, Cavan and Cork.

That really set them rolling into the Super 8s where they beat Roscommon by 18 points, lost narrowly to Dublin while giving them a fright in Healy Park, and made a late push against Donegal in Ballybofey to blast them into the All-Ireland semi-finals.

They faced neighbours Monaghan in the last four and avenged that painful defeat in Omagh.

Despite taking an early lead in the final, it was not to be for Tyrone, but in his 16th season in charge, Harte proved that he remains just as relevant a coach in a rapidly changing game.

The Young Team of the Year Award went to St Ronan’s College of Lurgan, who beat off competition from the Holywood Golf Club Girls’ team and Ulster’s U18 Boys’ hockey team.

The school won the prestigious Ulster Colleges Gaelic football competition, the MacRory Cup, and then followed it up with an All-Ireland, the Hogan Cup.

On a glorious sun-splashed St Patrick’s Day in Armagh’s Athletic Grounds, they claimed their first ever MacRory Cup by defeating St Mary’s of Magherafelt 1-9 to 1-7.

Under the management team of Mickey Donnelly, David Wilson and Colm Fegan, they weren’t done yet.

They ended the four-year domination of Kerry schools in the Hogan Cup by overcoming the PS Chorca Dhuibhne of Dingle in the semis.

The final was played in Croke Park against Mayo team Rice College, Westport, and it was a nail-biter, 1-10 to 1-9. Tiernan Kelly got their goal that brought the Hogan Cup to a school that hadn’t existed three years prior.

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