Derry ‘can do something different in future’ says Harte after All-Ireland exit

Oak Leaf boss ‘hugely disappointed’ as Championship campaign comes to an end

Mickey Harte hopes Derry have turned a corner after Saturday night's nervy victory over Westmeath in Newry. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Mickey Harte's Derry fell to Kerry in Sunday's All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

MICKEY Harte insists Derry “can try to do something different for the future” in the wake of their All-Ireland exit to Kerry on Sunday.

Despite being level early in the second half, the Kingdom came on strong when it mattered to set up a semi-final showdown with Armagh on July 13, leaving the Oak Leafs to lick their wounds after a turbulent Championship campaign.

Harte found his future the subject of intense speculation when consecutive defeats to Donegal, Galway and Armagh brought a swift end to the feed-good factor brought about by Derry’s Division final win over Dublin.

And, although victories over Westmeath and Mayo brought a place in the last eight, Harte’s men now face a long winter after coming up short in Croke Park on Sunday.

“I will be hugely disappointed, and forever there will be a degree of disappointment in the days that you lose and believe that you could do better. So yes, I’ll always be disappointed about that result and that outcome,” said the Derry boss.

“But I’m pretty much an optimistic person and I look ahead. The past can’t be changed. We can try to do something different for the future. And I take life on a day-to-day basis like that.”

And while those three defeats killed the momentum Derry had built through the spring, it was the nature of them – and the amount of goals conceded along the way – that ultimately took the greatest toll as the Championship unfolded.

“It wasn’t just that we were beaten - we were beaten badly by Donegal and Armagh, and we had a crazy kind of a battle with Galway in terms of losing the man [Gareth McKinless] and all of that. So I wouldn’t see it as such a bad outcome.

“And we know now where Galway are, so they’re a pretty useful side that we were up against that day. So yeah, it is disappointing, but that’s life at this level - you give it your best shot. When you believe you have people of the quality required to go to the top, then you like to be getting as close to that top as possible.

“And we didn’t get close enough this year.”

Meanwhile, Harte’s Kerry counterpart Jack O’Connor has endorsed the work being done by the Football Review Committee to improve the game long-term.

The Kingdom played out a cagey game of cat and mouse as they attempted to unpick the Derry defence, leaving most observers unimpressed by Sunday afternoon’s semi-final fare.

And O’Connor, having met former Kingdom manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice after the funeral of legendary commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, believes the time for change is coming.

“I definitely felt we needed to bring more energy to the game and we spoke about that at half-time. But like, if you think you can play a kind of gung-ho open football against that type of structure then that’s not living in the real world.

“The last thing you need to be doing is kicking away loose ball to a team like that who can seriously hurt you on the counter-attack because of their pace. So you can’t blame players for being a little bit cautious.

“We’d love to play open football, that’s the way we want to play it. I was even talking to Eamonn yesterday, I met him down at Mícheál’s funeral down in Dingle, and some of the changes are very promising.

“Sure look, we’ll play it any way it’s put in front of us but of course, look, traditionally, Kerry want to play that more expansive type of game. We have to adapt with the times.

“But some of those changes are obviously very promising. I hope they get a good airing and a good hearing.”