Mickey Harte needs to approach Canavan or O'Rourke, says Brian McGuigan
BRIAN McGuigan says Mickey Harte needs to approach Peter Canavan or Malachy O’Rourke about joining the Tyrone setup.
The Irish News revealed yesterday that Stephen O’Neill has left the backroom team having acted as the forwards’ coach for the past two seasons.
He follows Donnelly out the exit door after the Coalisland man signed a full-time professional deal with Ulster Rugby to head up the strength and conditioning in their academy.
Donnelly had doubled his Tyrone role as S&C coach up with taking a large percentage of the football coaching with Tyrone’s senior side.
It leaves Mickey Harte with huge gaps to fill in his backroom team over the winter, and his former instrumental number 11 McGuigan believes they have to go after the best.
However, the Ardboe man does concede there’s no guarantee either Canavan or O’Rourke – both of whom live in Ballygawley, right on the doorstep of the county’s Garvaghey training centre – would accept any invitation.
“Mickey’s gonna have to bring somebody else in. I know Malachy’s a manager in his own name, but look at Stephen Rochford going in with Donegal, Eamon O’Shea in with Tipperary hurlers.
“They were managers in their own right. What’s to say Mickey couldn’t go for the likes of Malachy O’Rourke to come in?
“We’re talking about forwards coaches, and is the perfect man to go in not up in Ballygawley? I know he has a big gig with Sky but would it not be perfect for him to come in now and learn the ropes?
“The only thing is Peter might not go in with [his son] Darragh involved. They definitely need somebody, if not two big men, to come in.”
McGuigan, who ruled himself out of getting involved, feels the departures from the Tyrone backroom have made this a “massive” winter for Harte.
“As always with Mickey, even when he’s winning, the county’s divided. The personality he has is why he’s been so successful, and if he hadn’t been that strong-minded, he wouldn’t have had that success he had.
“But if there’s no success next year, people are probably going to be calling for his head. The last few years they’ve been ok, getting to semi-finals and finals, but next year unless the All-Ireland is won, I think Mickey’s going to walk away on his own.”
The three-time All-Ireland winning forward felt his former team-mate O’Neill was having a positive impact on the Tyrone forwards, particularly the vastly-improved Allstar certainty Cathal McShane.
But he admitted that, without Mark Bradley, Lee Brennan and Ronan O’Neill as part of the setup this summer, their attacking hand wasn’t as strong as that of the teams they were up against.
“It’s a specialist coach that has to go into that role with the forward play. That’s where Tyrone are weak, getting enough scores against the big teams.
“Stevie tried it and helped them a bit, but Tyrone don’t have the natural forwards Kerry and Dublin have.
“If Stephen O’Neill thought there was another All-Ireland in Tyrone, would he maybe have stayed? I don’t know his thinking behind it. I just think he’s going to be a loss to the setup.
“At the same time, people are talking about freshening up the management and I know Mickey will be there for the next 12 months, and maybe Stevie and Peter Donnelly going away could be the wee bit of freshness they need.
“They’re gonna be a loss, yes, but somebody else will come in with new ideas and something new to listen to.”