GAA Football

Sean Cavanagh: Mickey Harte has full support of Tyrone squad

Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh says the Red Hand players are 100 per cent behind Mickey Harte. Picture by Colm O'Reilly
Francis Mooney and Gerry McLaughlin

TYRONE’S players are one hundred per cent behind their manager Mickey Harte, skipper Sean Cavanagh has insisted.

In a shock development earlier this week, the county board turned down Harte’s request for a one-year extension to his current term, which comes to an end at the conclusion of the 2017 season.

But Cavanagh – who won his ninth Irish News Ulster Allstar on Thursday – has pledged the support of the entire squad for the treble All-Ireland winning boss, expressing surprise at the decision to curtail his plans for the future.

“I think at this stage Mickey doesn’t have to prove too much. I know he doesn’t have to prove it to us, to myself or any of the players.

“Obviously we don’t have any control over what goes on in the offices up in Garvaghey, but I know all the players are fully behind him,” he said.

Cavanagh, whose own future remains uncertain, admitted that the reasons for last Tuesday’s night’s refusal to extend Harte’s current two-year term are a mystery to the players.

“It’s surprising from that perspective, because I think Mickey, Horse (Gavin Devlin) and Peter (Donnelly) have done a phenomenal job in the last few years to get us ready.

“The improvements are there, but obviously it’s a decision made by the county board. At this stage, I’m not sure what basis it’s made on, but it does raise an eyebrow or two whenever you’re a player, because you know the quality he has and what he really has done for Tyrone football.

“Obviously they decided to do things on their own terms, but as a player, you can’t fault Mickey.

“We were unbeaten up until one bad game this year, and even in that bad game, I think we probably should have won it, and we really should be sitting looking at an All-Ireland final.

“I don’t think he could have done much more this year to get us prepared and have us ready.

“I think if things had been very slightly different, we still would have been unbeaten at this stage.”

Meanwhile, Donegal’s Ryan McHugh has added his voice to the growing calls for Rory Gallagher to be given “as long as he wants” to take the county to the next level.

Ryan McHugh has backed Rory Gallagher to stay as Donegal manager for "as long as he wants". Picture by Philip Walsh

Gallagher was given a four-year term - with a review after three years – when he was appointed to succeed Jim McGuinness in 2014.

Speaking after picking up his third consecutive Irish News All Star, McHugh said he hoped Donegal would make the “right decision in appointing Rory Gallagher as boss for as long as he wants”.

“I think Donegal have good young players coming up from the minors and under-21s who have come up the ranks and have experience of winning.

“And I think Rory Gallagher is the man to lead this Donegal team to hopefully greater success in the future and he is the man who has experience of dealing with these players.

“And he should be given the term of whatever it takes, whether that is three, four or five years, Rory is the man and I think the rest of the players would agree with me that he is the man to lead that forward.”

McHugh’s comments echo remarks made by team captain Michael Murphy who has urged county administrators to take a “long-term” view during the transition period over the next few years.

Murphy said the current players would be happy to see Rory Gallagher extend his time in charge beyond 2017.

“It is important now that a fairly steady platform develops over the next three to four years and Rory, knowing these players at U-21 level, it would be very right for him to drive that on for two, three, four years.

“As players we would be keen for that to happen.

“A much as anything you’ll be striving to be successful but likewise you have to be realistic and assay that there are players that will maybe need time to bed in, things might not just happen instantly.”

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