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Tyrone reject Mickey Harte's request for a new deal

Legendary boss may be forced to give up reins

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Tyrone boss Mickey Harte will leave his role at the end of the year

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte will leave his role at the end of the year

�INPHO/John McVitty

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte will leave his role at the end of the year

A parting of the ways between the Tyrone county board and triple All-Ireland-winning manager Mickey Harte could be in the offing.

It is understood Harte, who steered the Red Hands to the Sam Maguire Cup in 2003, 2005 and 2008, has had a request for a one-year extension to a three-year contract which terminates now that his side have exited the Ulster Championship rejected.

Harte, who is already assured of his place in the pantheon of truly great managers alongside legendary figures such as Kevin Heffernan, Sean Boylan and Mick O'Dwyer, is thought to be anxious to build further on the new-look side which he assembled this year with players such as Conor McKenna and Darragh Canavan among others coming strongly to the fore.

But it would appear that there are factions within the county which would favour a fresh managerial voice.

County board officials, aware of misgivings which have been expressed following recent results, are not prepared to press the panic button, however.

Harte has plotted unimaginable success for Tyrone since taking over the reins in the latter part of 2002 - the year in which Armagh, Tyrone's neighbours from across the Blackwater, roared to their one and only All-Ireland title to date.

A year later, Harte's tactical nous coupled with fierce commitment from an inspired Red Hands side ensured that the coveted Sam Maguire Cup actually crossed the Blackwater Bridge for the first time, much to the delight of the delirious Tyrone fans.

This along with the successes in 2005 and 2008 helped to see Harte elevated to iconic status yet in this most traumatic of all seasons the ball has not bounced kindly for him.

It is safe to say that he endured one of the more disappointing spells of his career when Tyrone lost to Donegal in the Allianz League on October 18, then managed to scramble a one-point win over Mayo a week later to cling on to their position in Division One before surrendering to Donegal in the Ulster Championship on November 1 to complete a depressing fortnight.

Harte's commitment, passion and dedication have sustained him in a managerial career that has seen him experience unprecedented success with a county that had laboured in the All-Ireland Championship until 2003.

With Antrim manager Lenny Harbinson having already stood down and a question mark hovering over Ryan McMenamin's involvement with Fermanagh, the Championship is certainly proving a cruel arena for those charged with guiding the fortunes of teams.

It is understood that McMenamin is pondering his future having been Rory Gallagher's No.2 while he was in charge of the Erne side before McMenamin succeeded him at the start of this year.

With Armagh due to face Donegal in the first of the Ulster semi-finals on Saturday and then Down and Cavan going head-to-head in the second semi on Sunday, the identity of the finalists will be known by mid-afternoon on that day.

And then the preparations will begin for the provincial final on Sunday, November 22. To add spice to the concluding stages of the All-Ireland series, the Ulster champions will meet the Leinster champions in the All-Ireland semi-final on December 5.

Belfast Telegraph


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