Mark Harte and Adrian O'Donnell chasing Ulster IFC final success with Pomeroy
AS TEAM-MATES in a star-studded Errigal Ciarán side, Mark Harte and Adrian O’Donnell enjoyed the glory days, winning an Ulster club championship title in 2002.
The pair have stuck together to venture into the world of management and once again they’re chasing provincial success. They have guided Pomeroy to the Ulster Club IFC final and, on Sunday at Páirc Esler, a rare double could unfold. The joint ticket has guided the Plunketts back to senior football, and pushed further boundaries with an assault on the provincial series: “Having played for Errigal for quite a few years, we did get a number of Ulster runs. It’s a different level and where you gauge yourself as players and teams,” said O’Donnell.
“You learn a lot from the other team members and the managers you’re playing under. We have already tried to take on board as much as possible from the people that we’re working with and played with. It’s something that we’re enjoying and it’s something that we wouldn’t be in if we weren’t enjoying it. When we finished playing with Errigal some would say that we needed to fill a void and the fact that we were manging at school level we felt that there was something to work on.”
Pomeroy take on Donaghmoyne of Monaghan in Sunday’s Ulster Club IFC final and Harte, the son of Tyrone manager Mickey, understands the emotions and anxieties of his players as they work through the final preparations.
“Everybody is just energised and excited by the journey we have been on and we’re hoping it will take us a bit further," he said.
“Every day you go out and play a match, no matter if it’s a challenge match, a league match, and Ulster Club final, or whatever it is, you pick up something, you learn something about yourself, you learn something about your opponents, you learn something about your players and this will be no different.”
It took some time for the new management team to get to know the players and to build a mutual trust and understanding which would lead to an effective style of play at Plunkett Park: “Our first few league games were patchy. We scraped over the line in a couple of them, we drew two as well and we had a couple of defeats," he added.
“So we weren’t sitting pretty after six or seven games, but when you get one win and it becomes two and becomes three, confidence snowballs. We had a couple of men coming back from the Tyrone set-up who were available for the non-starred games and, suddenly, we went on a bit of a roll where it became the norm that we were winning league games and scrapping out victories as well.
“Thankfully, that run has continued. I don’t think our form has been spectacular, it has been steady and there have been parts of every game that we have played decent stuff, and there have been parts of every game where our performance levels have dropped.
“But as the competition goes on, the standard of opponent will increase, and I have no doubt that Sunday’s opponents will definitely bring the stiffest test of the year, and it’s something that we have got to be prepared for.”
Holy Trinity College, Cookstown teacher O’Donnell has coached more than half of the Pomeroy team as schoolboys, giving him a valuable insight into what they have to offer as senior club footballers: “When I came in at the end of last year I was able to get to see exactly what they had to offer," he said.
"Having known so many of them at schools level and getting to see what this group of players had to offer, it was an easy decision of Mark and I and we’re very fortunate to be given the opportunity to manage these boys for a year and thankfully it has worked out well to date.
“From having managed them for the best part of a decade, I would always watch carefully how they’re getting on with their clubs and I’d watch them and hope that they’d continue to improve. It was an easy decision to come here, things hasn’t been working particularly well this last few years and I’d have been asking as many questions as to why that was the case.
“To see the quality that they have in a certain age group and see the sprinkling of experience and the quality that they have further on up, it was an easy decision for Mark and I to come to.”