GAA Football

I'll judge criticism on its merits, says Tyrone boss Mickey Harte

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte tends to turn a deaf ear to critics.
Pic Philip Walsh

TYRONE boss Mickey Harte has insisted he’s not bothered by any criticism from former players – except those who take what he termed ‘a cheap shot’.

That comment will be widely interpreted as being directed at former Red Hand captain Sean Cavanagh, who said Harte had “quite an autocratic style” in an interview in mid-May.

The Moy man, whose younger brother Colm is still a mainstay of the Tyrone team, also suggested that certain forwards had “suffered” because of the playing system deployed by Harte in recent years.

Harte did not respond, although his assistant Gavin ‘Horse’ Devlin did hit back, questioning the quality of Cavanagh’s captaincy in comparison to some of his predecessors.

At yesterday’s Tyrone media conference before their All-Ireland Senior Football final against champions Dublin on Sunday September 2, Harte initially laughed when asked about the former Tyrone players now working in the media, quipping: “It’s embarrassing how well they’re talking about us.”

However, he then declared that he didn’t let criticism cause him any concern: “No, it’s not a big issue; it’s only big if you allow it to be,” he added.

“Everybody has their opinion and sometimes that opinion is solicited from them to make a headline, and I understand that. Let that be as it may.

“I learnt a long time ago that we really shouldn’t determine how well we feel ourselves by what somebody else says. That’s really handing away the power of your own well-being to somebody else.

“So let people make their comments and if they have substance to back it up, then I’ll appreciate it. And if they haven’t, I’ll recognise it for what it is – a cheap shot.”

Harte also suggested that concerns about the supposed poor state of football in comparison are often overblown, claiming that hurling pundits promote their game better than observers of football:

“I think that that’s overplayed somewhat. I think maybe sometimes people expect too much from the current Championship set-up. There’s always been dominant teams, always been one-sided games.

“I suppose, again, the hurling people, I would always commend them because they definitely make the most of everything that happens favourably in their department.

“They don’t miss it, and even yesterday’s [All-Ireland senior hurling] final for example, the first half wasn’t anything exciting or not the standard that they would have come to expect - but they weren’t bemoaning that fact, they were just saying that ‘This will change, it will get better,’ and it did.

The experienced Errigal Ciaran clubman also put some of the comparisons into perspective, pointing out: “This has really been a really successful year for hurling, there’s been lots of very good games that have been highly competitive and highly exciting, so maybe just now isn’t the best time to compare one to the other. And of course, they are very different games anyway.

“To expect the same sort of score return in Gaelic football as in hurling is not a realistic proposition anyway, because it’s much easier to get scores in terms of the distance you can hit them from and the speed at which they can get the ball from A to B. It is a different game, so you are not comparing like with like.

“So I commend them with how well they promote their own particular part of their Gaelic games and they’ve got a really good season to talk about this year.

“We won’t have as many exciting games to reflect on, but there certainly were very some very interesting games as well in football.”

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