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Sean Cavanagh: Mickey Harte's move to Derry 'really bizarre'

former Tyrone footballer, Seán Cavanagh who has come on board as an AIB ambassador for this year’s GOAL mile. This year AIB and GOAL are calling on GAA clubs to ‘Step Up Together’ this festive season and host their own GOAL mile to raise funds to support vulnerable communities across the world         Picture: Bryan Keane/Inpho
former Tyrone footballer, Seán Cavanagh who has come on board as an AIB ambassador for this year’s GOAL mile. This year AIB and GOAL are calling on GAA clubs to ‘Step Up Together’ this festive season and host their own GOAL mile to raise funds to support former Tyrone footballer, Seán Cavanagh who has come on board as an AIB ambassador for this year’s GOAL mile. This year AIB and GOAL are calling on GAA clubs to ‘Step Up Together’ this festive season and host their own GOAL mile to raise funds to support vulnerable communities across the world Picture: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Sean Cavanagh has described the Mickey Harte project in Derry as 'really bizarre' and claimed that 'if it goes wrong, it could go badly wrong'.

The 2008 Footballer of the Year and ex-Red Hands captain was a key figure in each of Harte's All-Ireland winning teams and can't understand how his former ally could now go up against his own county.

Cavanagh, who was player-manager with native Moy this year, said he has personally had 'lots' of job offers but knocked each of them back because he has a "deep rooted affinity to my club and county."

Harte, in comparison, has already managed Louth for three seasons and is now in charge of Tyrone's neighbours and great rivals, a situation Cavanagh said would be like "Alex Ferguson sitting in a Liverpool dugout managing against Manchester United".

Read more:

  • Derry confirm Mickey Harte as new manager on three-year term
  • Moy and Tyrone legend Sean Cavanagh brings curtain down on playing career

Cavanagh noted Harte's 'ridiculous ambition' and said he's certain that his former boss will be targeting an All-Ireland title with the back-to-back Ulster champions in 2024.

But speaking at the launch of this year's AIB GOAL Mile, Cavanagh warned that Harte may not be given much of a bedding in period in Derry and said that it has the potential to go spectacularly wrong.

"It just feels bizarre," said Cavanagh of the situation.

"I don't know would I use the word 'wrong'. I presume he has ambitions to win Sam Maguire because that's what Derry people will demand.

"It feels like one of those things that, if it goes wrong, it could go badly wrong. Derry people obviously are not Tyrone people either, you'll always give your own people a bit more grace.

Mickey Harte will manage Derry next year, a move Sean Cavanagh likened to seeing "Alex Ferguson sitting in a Liverpool dugout"                            Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Mickey Harte will manage Derry next year, a move Sean Cavanagh likened to seeing "Alex Ferguson sitting in a Liverpool dugout" Picture: Margaret McLaughlin Mickey Harte will manage Derry next year, a move Sean Cavanagh likened to seeing "Alex Ferguson sitting in a Liverpool dugout" Picture: Margaret McLaughlin

"Going into that sort of pressure cooker, and he's obviously thought it through, but he's going to be under more scrutiny than he has been at any time in his entire career.

"But he must see that opportunity to win Sam. That must be the reason he's gone there for. And fair play to him, if that suits him, that's fine.

"It's just the strangeness of coaching against Tyrone. Forget about trophies, forget about players...I could never personally see myself standing with an Armagh top on or a Donegal top and coaching against the team that I still am passionate about. And I know that Mickey was incredibly passionate about Tyrone."

Five-time All-star Cavanagh said Harte's greatest asset is his ability to make a group of players believe they can achieve the impossible.

"He just has that ridiculous ambition that he feels he can lift Sam Maguire again," said Cavanagh. "That's the brilliance of the man. He has a spell binding ability to convince everyone around him that they're going to win.

"If you ask me what team has the potential to go on and beat Dublin, Kerry or Galway, or whoever is going to be at the top table in 2024, Derry is that team. I think he sees similarities from the past in taking over that '02 Tyrone team and adding motivation and confidence and getting them over the line.

Kilkenny hurling Captain, Eoin Cody and former Tyrone footballer, Seán Cavanagh have both come on board as an AIB ambassador for this year’s GOAL mile
Kilkenny hurling Captain, Eoin Cody and former Tyrone footballer, Seán Cavanagh have both come on board as an AIB ambassador for this year’s GOAL mile Kilkenny hurling Captain, Eoin Cody and former Tyrone footballer, Seán Cavanagh have both come on board as an AIB ambassador for this year’s GOAL mile

"I don't know whether he can do it but I think that's what the motivating factor is for him."

* AIB is offering people the chance to win €1,000 for their GAA club by registering for their GOAL Mile by visiting www.goalmile.org and also registering their club for the AIB GAA GOAL Mile competition at www.jotform.com/team/232784181278060/AIBGoalMileCompetition2023