GAA Football

Off The Fence: Mickey Harte taken to task over comments on Dublin-Kerry 'classic'

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte suggested some of the assessments following Kerry's win over Dublin were 'rose-tinted'
Neil Loughran

A COUPLE of weeks ago, Mickey Harte poured cold water on the giddy assessments doing the rounds in the aftermath of last month’s titanic Division One final tussle between Dublin and Kerry.

While some hailed it a Croke Park classic, a return to the glory days of two attack-minded groups of players going mano-a-mano, the Tyrone boss suggested having another look.

Harte’s Red Hands have been criticised for being overly-defensive, and he believes the eulogies from certain pundits (GAA code for Joe Brolly) after the Dublin-Kerry clash were “rose-tinted”.

‘ULSTER GAA man’ is having none of it and takes Harte to task, before taking the opportunity to have a Brolly-esque slap at Tyrone’s style of play.

The floor is yours ‘Ulster GAA man’.

“Does Mickey Harte think the GAA public are eejits who can’t tell a decent game of football when they see one?” he asks.

“As he has been doing for several years now, he portrays us as dupes of the media. That suits Mickey's agenda as a purveyor of mind-numbing football. He did the same after the 2013 Kerry-Dublin semi-final, when he questioned the quality of that particular classic, suggesting that the GAA public had bought into media hysteria.

“Mickey cast aspersions on the perception of the recent Kerry-Dublin League final, again citing media influence. I recall thinking it was a great game where, despite the number of bodies back in defence, emphasis was on outscoring the opposition, rather than conceding less.

“Those watching with me felt the same, as did the many I spoke to in the hours after the game. It's worth pointing out that the game was only broadcast live on TG4 in Irish so, for obvious reasons, there was little opportunity for the media to influence our perception of proceedings.

“In fact many, like me, probably tuned in with a preconceived notion that they might well fall asleep at some point during the game. Contrary to what Mickey suggests, people know the difference between entertaining and boring football.

“That particular game, with its emphasis on fast-paced attacking, moving the ball forward (as opposed to backways and sideways) and crucially even throwing in a decent smattering of kick passing (and long kick-outs) was a far cry from the turgid, laborious, rugby league-resembling brand of handball that Mickey Harte's team in particular have numbed me with in the last five or six years.

“By all means Mickey, play the game whatever way you see fit, but at least credit football people with the ability to decide for themselves what they like and don't like.”

I watched the Dublin-Kerry game in question and loved it. I was at the Tyrone-Mayo game earlier in the League, derided in some quarters, and thoroughly enjoyed it too.

Football is a subjective business and what everybody likes or dislikes won’t always be the same. The Dublin-Kerry game probably drew so much praise and attention because, at inter-county level anyway, encounters offering such quality and intensity are few and far between.


MOVING on, and it wouldn’t be the first week of the Ulster Championship if there weren’t complaints about ticket prices.

There were some rumblings of discontent after two disappointing provincial openers last weekend, and ‘Michael from Newry’ isn’t overly enamoured at the thought of shelling out £22 for a stand ticket when Down host Armagh at Pairc Esler on June 4.

“What man, wife and children will go and pay that? You’d be looking over £100 before it’s all over (by my reckoning, that would cover a man and wife at £22 each, and 11 children, or U16s, at £5 a touch. Do you live in a shoe?)

“It’s an awful disgrace and the GAA don’t care about nobody except themselves. It’s going to be two bad teams that’s playing anyway (why go then?)

“It’s alright for you newspaper boys getting well paid – you can well afford to pay it – but a nine-to-five man can’t afford to go to a match now at all.”

You’ll be glad to know I’ve just rolled out of my diamond-encrusted bed to reply to this Michael.

You have my sympathy - £22 is steep enough for a stand ticket if you’re taking the family but then, it all depends on what you get.

If you witnessed a barn-burner at Pairc Esler, and were there when your county beat their bitter rivals, would you not feel it was money well spent?

I was in Ballybofey for Donegal v Antrim on Sunday and while most of the senior match was a stinker, the minor game – which went to extra-time – was a joy to behold.

You pays your money, you takes your chance.


AND finally, ‘Micheal O'Loingsigh’ enjoyed Kenny Archer’s column in yesterday’s paper about the need for a tiered Championship with promotion and relegation to bring back some excitement for the paying punter.

However, with the National League already in place, ‘Michael’ isn’t sure about something similar running through the summer months.

He said: “Surely it would be easier to add home and away to the existing leagues with a top four play-off or even a top eight consisting of the top four in Division One, top two in Division Two and the and top one from Divisions Three and Four.

“However, that would probably not solve all the problems. It could replace the existing All-Ireland competition but some provinces would wish to retain their provincial competitions, although most are one or two-horse races apart from Ulster which could muster three or maybe four horses.

“There seems to be a fixation in the GAA with 'the Championship' whether at club or county level and there always seems to be more kudos for the All-Ireland winners and the respective county championship winners despite the greater effort and commitment it takes to win leagues.

“Still what do I know. I'm just going to Celtic Park on Sunday to relish another Championship game and I'll probably pick up the Irish News on Monday to find out where it all went right or went wrong.”

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