Harte all set for nostalgic day at Tyrone final but has eyes very much on future
It's not often that Mickey Harte can be accused of mixing business and pleasure but there will undoubtedly be a rare fusion of the two when he attends Sunday's Tyrone Senior Football Championship final between Coalisland Fianna and St Mary's, Killyclogher.
Not only will Harte be fulfilling one of his concluding missions in terms of assessing talent for the 2019 campaign - hoping to go one better after losing this year's All-Ireland final to Dublin - but he will also be honoured along with the rest of the 1993 Errigal Ciaran squad that won the Ulster Club Championship.
The 25th anniversary of the team's achievement will be marked in some style and Harte will have special reason for reflecting on his club's success as he was also Tyrone minor manager at the time.
Errigal Ciaran were to win the provincial honour again in 2002 when Harte was manager with Dermot McCann as his assistant but even though seven different clubs from the O'Neill county have taken delivery of the domestic championship title during the last eight years none of them have managed to ascend the Ulster club throne.
Be that as it may, Harte's current drive to net new talent means that he has been in almost perpetual motion since the Tyrone Championship started and now with a repeat of the 2016 final looming this weekend, he is hoping to unearth fresh nuggets to help boost his team's bid for what will be an all-out assault on both the Ulster and All-Ireland titles.
An array of established Red Hand players such as Padraig Hampsey, Michael McKernan, Tiernan McCann, Mark Bradley and Conall McCann will be on parade with others such as Coalisland's Peter Herron and Stephen McNally along with Killyclogher duo Matthew Murnaghan and Nathan Donnelly anxious to enhance their credentials.
Tyrone may have surrendered to Dublin in the recent All-Ireland final but since then Harte has lost no time in laying his plans for next year.
He certainly has no qualms about bringing in fresh faces nor is he in any way inhibited by Dublin's towering All-Ireland record spanning the past four years. Instead, he is strongly focused on eliciting the best he can from his squad in the hope they can bring an All-Ireland title to the county for the first time in 11 years.
"This to me is just a wonderful opportunity to experience something really new and to bring a new and young set of players to the highest level if we can. I believe it's possible, they believe it's possible, we have to go and do what will be required to make it possible," insists Harte.
"I don't need anything to make me hungrier. I have an insatiable appetite for working with quality players, and I feel it as a privilege from the first day I came in with the Tyrone minors in 1991."
Along with his assistant Gavin Teague, Harte's forensic search for talent should ensure Tyrone will hit the ground running when the new campaign gets under way but he is taking nothing for granted.
"Every other side will be keen to make an early impact so we know what to expect," points out Harte.
"The vast majority of our players who performed against Dublin had not been there before but hopefully the experience will now stand to them."
Tyrone county board spokesman Eugene McConnell feels that Harte's intensive quest for new faces could reap rich dividends.
"Mickey knows what he wants and I think there are players out there who can help strengthen his hand," states McConnell.