Mickey Harte lauds faithful Tyrone fans - and ignores online snipers

TYRONE boss Mickey Harte has told his online critics that their words aren’t just water off a duck’s back – he doesn’t even go near the pond.

The Red Hands are floating at the moment, in the ‘high water’ stage of preparing for Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC Final against Dublin, but plenty of sharp barbs have been aimed at Harte over the past decade.

However, he declared: “The good thing is that I don’t have any truck with social media at all, so there are an awful lot of people who - I’m sorry to tell them, they’ll be very disappointed - the stuff they say about me that’s not nice, I don’t even read it, I don’t know it.

“There’s no value in it, you might as well not do it. It’s only good [for them] if you take it on and make it feel like it hurts you. It doesn’t have that impact on me because I don’t read it even.”

Harte has had strong backing too, including from some who travel the length and breadth of Ireland in all weather to support Tyrone:

“The main thing is that there are lots of people who support Gaelic games in our county, and they’re there come Hell or high water. They’re the people that drive you on, the people who truly are there, and we know them.

“They’re there early before games and they’re the last people leaving. Every club and every county has people of that nature.

“They’re really the people you do things for, so we’d be really happy when we do well we know that they feel good inside.

“They’re the people who drive you on, not the snipers who come at you from a distance. That’s part and parcel of the modern world that we live in.”

Harte has had criticism to his face, of course, including from within the Tyrone County Committee, with questions posed over his future three years ago - but he says he took that philosophically:

“I understand that some people always crave change and, if you’re not winning, I’ve seen it and heard it.

“Someone at a meeting a few years ago decried that it was seven or eight years since Tyrone had reached an All-Ireland Final - and this was a real problem for them. I began to wonder what we were doing for the 119 years before we won any!

“But there are people with that mentality. That’s fine, they can be as they may, but there are a lot of good people in our county who love Gaelic games and the whole concept of what it has to offer, to themselves and to their family.

“I understand that there’s always an urge to change, the view that ‘new’ will always bring ‘better’.

“But I still felt over the years that there was still something we could offer as a management, and that I could offer as a person to Gaelic games at this level. I still believed I could that and I’m glad that people on the county board who mattered agreed with that assessment.”

Now in his 16th season in charge of the Red Hand seniors, facing into his fourth senior decider, Harte insists he’s as proud as ever to be the main man for his county:

“I said from the first day I took over the Tyrone minors in 1991 that it’s a privilege to be in a position where you’re asked to work with the best players at any age level in our county. I’m so glad that I’m still trusted to do that.”