GAA Football

There is still joy in the GAA says Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

Mickey Harte says the protrayal of Gaelic football as a joyless pursuit is wide of the mark
Andy Watters

AS his 100th Championship game approaches, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has rejected suggestions that the joy has disappeared from gaelic football.

Harte insisted that those who operate at the top level love the game and that’s the reason why they continue to play it.

And the three-time All-Ireland winning boss dismissed claims that inter-county footballers have become slaves to systems and to punishing training regimes.

“I don’t think they are slaves. I think they are where they want to be,” he said.

“I think there’s too much made of that, that there’s not joy and no fun in this any more.

“There’s total joy, and total fun. These people dedicate their lives to this, this is their choice. If they didn’t choose this, they would be doing something else anyway.”

The Red Hand boss believes the elite sportsmen who make up the inter-county cohort would be engaging in some other demanding sporting pursuit if they were not playing gaelic football.

“They would be running 5k forest runs of half marathons, or something else," he said.

"They would dedicate them to something that would drive them on to challenge themselves to be the best.

“That it’s gaelic football that a certain number of players choose to do that with, then so be it.

“There’s not one person I know that’s driven out the door to training by their wife or anybody else, or anybody managing them driving them in through the changing room door and saying, get in there and suffer this.

“There’s no sign of suffering on our training ground anyway, but yet when some people talk like that, it becomes a reality, and unfortunately that’s the case. And some people tend to believe there’s some element of truth in it.

“It often is uttered that there’s no joy left in gaelic football and players are slaves to systems and all of this. I don’t believe that at all.”

Harte, who will take charge of Tyrone in aChampionship match for the 100th time when his team take on Derry in an Ulster SFC preliminary round tie on May 12, also rubbished the notion that the kicking strategy which he employed in this year’s National Football League is a totally new departure for the Red Hands.

“We always kicked quite a bit, people are talking a bit more about it now.

“It’s how the game develops and evolves. I have been saying that all overtime, when people thought our game was lost to the disaster of defensive football and there was never going to be a good game of football again.

“I never really looked at it that way. I think people adapt and adjust to whatever is required, and to the players you have at your disposal.

“Sometimes you have to play a running game, a more short-passing game, sometimes you have to do that because you’re dealing with the opposition and the way they set up.

“But again it all does evolve, it all does change, and this game will never stay the same, there will always be adjustments, and little tweaks here and there that will change the course of a certain era of the game.”

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