Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport GAA Tyrone

Mickey Harte kept faith to bring back glory days

By Declan Bogue

The Audacity of Faith. That's how Enda McGinley, who grew up playing football under Mickey Harte, describes the strongest quality of the Tyrone manager.

"When Barack Obama was getting elected, one of his standout lines was; 'The audacity of Hope,'" McGinley said.

"For me, and you can take it whatever angle you want to take, Mickey has the audacity of faith - he has complete faith in his own ability, his own confidence and in any team he works in, he sees that immediately transfer to them.

"Whatever he is in, he expects it to be the best, he does not expect at any stage that it will come up short. Even when the facts can be staring you most obviously in the face, he has complete faith in what he is about and that definitely transfers to the team."

Watching Harte celebrate an Ulster title with his players on Sunday, you can't help but wonder where they might be right now if some people within the county had got their way last winter.

His term as manager had run out and, while he said he wanted to continue, a number of figures wanted change.

It went to a vote at a county board meeting.

Peter Canavan, another man who knows Harte from childhood, recalls the impasse.

"It vindicates those people who brought a level head," he said.

"With Mickey, the players respected him and he was going to work hard with the team. He was single-minded and focused and he has done it before. He has done it before and he knows how to win.

"It was disappointing, and I said at the time that people were getting carried away with issues that were non-football related."

Among the issues were believed to be the size of the backroom team and his continued non co-operation with RTÉ, which continues to this day.

McGinley, who Harte coached to an under-14 title when he was just 11, believes that his former manager played that situation perfectly.

"The masterstroke that he pulled last year straight after the defeat to Kerry, he immediately nailed his colours to the mast and said, 'I am here next year, of course,'" he said.

"He had, in his position, complete faith in where that group was going and that rubs off on the team for me."

Now that they are back on top of the pile again, the wonder is how it has taken six years.

"The key thing about him is persistence," Canavan said.

"Back in 2003, it would have been a word he would have used a lot in relation to getting players to believe in the powers of persistence. I think in this past three or four years this very much relates to himself.

"That's because he had different people knocking him and had taken different kicks in the teeth. He has adapted his style of play to take on the likes of Donegal," he said.

Along with Fermanagh's Pete McGrath as the oldest inter-county manager, Harte has managed to connect with the Snapchat generation, according to McGinley.

"It's strange, the young boys are so close, the way they were interacting with him yesterday was fantastic. To see this new, young team, he has obviously become this father-figure," he said.

"That team came through a difficult time in terms of the way they were being spoken about, the treatment they were getting from the media, that was a difficult place for them to be, but they obviously used it, have built on it.

"That complete faith in Mickey as the manager, he has responded to that and you sense a real life in him now. He seems to have regained his huge enthusiasm and has blended in with the boys that he has."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph