Harte ache for one, happy surprise for the other?

There are certain things you never expect to see in life. A Tyrone man managing Derry would absolutely sit atop any such list. Granted, times have changed seismically since I had GAA hooked to my veins 33 years ago.

We’ve seen Mick O’Dwyer migrate like a prophet spreading his gospel in various places. Paidi do likewise, John O’Mahony work with both Galway and Leitrim, John Maughan with Clare and Offaly.

Switch to hurling and you’ve had Eamon Cregan bring All Ireland glory to Offaly, at greatest expense to his native Limerick. Davy Fitzgerald brought about improvements in both Waterford and Wexford. So too Michael Fennelly with Offaly and, to a certain extent, Henry Shefflin in Galway.

There are, however, certain rubicons one never expects to see crossed. Like a Corkman managing Kerry, or someone from Meath training the Dubs. For comparative purposes, the Tyrone-Derry dynamic would’ve been considered on a different level to any of the others.

So it probably says more about the central character to this tale than either team that the most improbable of barriers were flattened in order to bring about the development which prompted what you are reading.

To end the suspence here, the sensational breaking news tonight is that Mickey Harte and his long time sidekick Gavin Devlin are to renegue on their commitment to Louth and take up the reins in Derry. With those having been relinquished by Ciaran Meenagh voluntarily and, prior to that, Rory Gallagher in different circumstances.

Mickey Harte is on the move again

Now, the attractiveness of the Derry job at present is obvious, but nobody need ever try and tell me Mickey Harte isn’t Me Feiner. Yes, he has encountered enormous tragedy in life, true too that he is one of the recognised great managers in the history of Gaelic football. But the baggage which inevitably accompanies him just leaves a sour taste with this observer.

Only my opinion. From a purely football viewpoint, his record speaks for itself and – though highly surprising that Malachy O’Rourke wasn’t given the role – appointing the three-time Sam Maguire winning boss (and Devlin) represents a serious coup for the Oak Leaf County.

That said, be mindful that the back-to-back Ulster Champions were one (very) bad refereeing decision away from parktaking in the Association’s showpiece Sunday. The age profile of their team suggests there should be plenty more left in their tank.

That’s without consideration of the fact that the men from the Sperrin Mountains have won the All Ireland MFC twice in the last couple of years and that Watty Grahams of Glen are, arguably, the best club side in the country presently.

However, Chris De Burgh wasn’t wrong when he crooned that there are, indeed, two sides to every story. Thus, while the acquisition of the services of the dour Tyrone duo represents a serious bit of business for the home of Danny Boy, their loss is bound to be a massive one to the football people of Co Louth.

Louth’s Sam Mulroy

If I were involved with or a supporter of the Wee County, there would be as much anger and betrayal brewing beneath the surface as disappointment. That they had made progress under the guidance of the two Tyrone men is undeniable but, whatever about romantic Ireland, loyalty in Ireland is well and truly dead and gone. Consider that, immediately after their 2023 campaign had concluded the double act had committed to extending their stay in Darver and its environs.

But sure Mickey wouldn’t get as many headlines in one as he would with the other now, would he? I genuinely do feel sorry for Louth. With the way the GAA world is currently running, administrators in the hills of Cooley could already be considered to be behind the eight ball looking for a new manager at this stage.

Whatever about all of the above, from a Meath perspective, life in Div. 2 of next years league just got a whole lot more palatable!

Leave a Reply