Managerial shake-up can help Tyrone challenge for Sam: Colm Cavanagh
THERE was a growing sense that “people would like to see something fresh” before Mickey Harte called time on his Tyrone tenure, according to Colm Cavanagh.
Three-time All-Ireland winner Harte stepped down after 18 years at the helm following last year’s Championship, with the management team of Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher his replacements heading into 2021.
Cavanagh was there for 13 of those years under Harte before bringing the curtain down on his inter-county career last September – although the 33-year-old has indicated a comeback is not out of the question under the new regime.
And the Moy man says the fact Tyrone hadn’t landed the All-Ireland title since 2008 “was on people’s minds” as speculation surrounded Harte’s future in recent years.
“When somebody is there for so long… listen, it’s very hard to question the credentials of Mickey Harte but when you look at the fact we hadn’t won an All-Ireland in that length of time. The standards we set in Tyrone are very high,” said Cavanagh, who was speaking at the launch of Electric Ireland's GAA Minor Special Recognition awards.
“Ulster successes came and went and I suppose the last few years we had a few near misses and a couple of matches we could have managed better, whether it was tactical or player-related. There was that sort of sense that to get to that next level, yes, possibly there could have been a shift and it would have been a positive shift.
“It’s not as if people were talking about Mickey in the dressing room, that he needed to go, but I do think there was that general sense people would like to see something fresh.
“There were a lot of guys there who had played under Mickey for a long period of time and not getting over that final step in terms of winning another All-Ireland was on people’s minds, the likes of probably Mattie Donnelly who had been playing for a long time and hadn’t got to the highest part of the game.
“There would have been a consensus it would have been nice but at the same time nobody was going to question Mickey’s ability. He has done so much for Tyrone football and brought so much positivity over the years.
“Even if Tyrone go on this year and win things, he set a really high bar for management and for players as well. I’ve no doubt he’s left Tyrone in a good place.”
A failure to “change up” different aspects of their approach did eventually take a toll, Cavanagh feels, but he believes Harte’s successors will breathe new life into the Tyrone set-up.
“In terms of approach to coaching styles and how he approached games, routines - and this is a lot of stuff that players pick up on - it probably didn't change the last, say, five years. And sometimes that can get a wee bit monotonous.
“If you do the same thing over and over again, in terms of preparation... you know, simple things, hotels, video analysis, just generally everything, it was the same year on year and I found it where I was potentially going to things going 'we did this last year, there's been no change up'.
“And it's not even that a change up would have been better - players just enjoy fresh approaches, seeing different things and approaching things differently.
“I know he tried to bring in different men, he brought Kevin Madden in, and obviously Jonny Davis came in for Peter Donnelly, but the general approach was very similar year on year and I found that very hard to stomach sometimes.
“I would have liked to have seen something different and I think that's probably a positive in that regard, with the new approach and the new guys. They'll definitely come in with a different mentality and try to bring that club Tyrone aspect of things.”