GAA Football

I owe Mickey Harte an awful lot: Tyrone defender Ronan McNamee

Ronan McNamee will miss Mickey Harte not being on the Tyrone sidelines

RONAN McNamee has paid a glowing tribute to outgoing Mickey Harte having leaned on his manager to recover from bouts of depression back in 2015 and 2016.

In an interview with The Irish News 12 months ago, McNamee revealed how he’d hit rock bottom – but was helped out of the darkness by his manager.

“Mickey has been very good to me. In 2015/16, I tried to leave the panel and he wouldn’t let me. I hadn’t really told anybody or spoken to anyone about how I was feeling.

“I was planning on ‘bouncing’ [leaving the country] and Mickey said even if I didn’t want to train it was a better place to be than thinking of going somewhere else.

“Even if I was just sitting about Garvaghey, it was a better environment I’d be in…

“Mickey set me up with a counsellor as I wouldn’t have known where to turn to. I had gone to the doctors and they set me up with a counsellor but it wasn’t what I needed, but Mickey knew somebody who he put me in touch with and it helped me.”

Over the last few years, Harte’s relationship with the media had become fractious at times – but McNamee said that he always brought positive energy to the Tyrone camp throughout the player’s nine-year involvement. He also slammed the critics who “tried the kick the stool from under him”.

“I’d say it’s going to be good for him because I’m sure there were stresses and a lot of baggage that came with the job,” said McNamee, who became Aghyaran’s first-ever Allstar in 2019.

“Obviously the media see him after 70 minutes of football and things maybe have gone our way or not gone our way… and people talking bad about Tyrone. But Mickey was a different man with us.

“There was a lot of negativity about Mickey among some people but they’re the same people now who are saying how great he is. Only a couple of weeks ago they were kicking the stool from under him. It’s so fickle.

“But it’s not just Mickey we’re losing, you’re talking 10 or 15 people in the backroom team and I’m sure the new management that comes in will want their own people in.”

U21 All-Ireland winning manager Fergal Logan and Brian Dooher are hotly tipped to take over the senior job.

McNamee was given a mere 40 minutes notice that he was making his Championship debut against Kerry in Killarney in 2012 and that he would be marking Paul Galvin.

“Since I’ve been on the panel and taking an interest from the early 2000’s, it was always Mickey Harte...

“Mickey was great with the finer detail and the way he set things up. If he’d asked us to stand on our heads, boys would have done it. I remember he would comment on those players who weren’t in the match-day 26 and he talked about Hugh Pat McGeary one time who wasn’t in the squad and how he was bouncing about with excitement. We called Mickey the ‘Beard’.

“I remember him saying to me one time: ‘There are two types of people in the world – energy bringers and energy sappers – don’t be the second one. There was no place for the latter in a successful team.

“I remember Hugh Pat’s energy rubbed off on everyone else. And Mickey noticed that. You didn’t think he would notice things but he noticed Hugh Pat’s positive attitude. He had eyes in the back of his head.”


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