Mickey Harte to be appointed new Derry manager after stepping down in Louth

DERRY will formally appoint Mickey Harte as their new manager after he stunned Louth earlier this evening by stepping down as their boss.

The reigning Ulster champions landed a left-field move by appointing the three-time All-Ireland winning former Tyrone boss.

It came as a complete bombshell in Louth, where players were called to a surprise meeting in Darver at 7.15pm and were shocked by the news that met them.

It’s understood that the blow was delivered to them by county chairman Peter Fitzpatrick, who had met with Harte earlier today.

The players then met separately with Gavin Devlin afterwards.

Although Derry were yet to officially announce Harte’s appointment at the time of going to print, the news had been outed for them by Louth, who said in a statement that they were departing “with immediate effect and taking over with Derry senior footballers”.

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Their statement said that the county’s management committee had been informed earlier on Monday evening.

Harte and Gavin Devlin both depart to join up with the Oak Leafers, where they will hope to propel a county’s All-Ireland hopes to the next level.

Devlin has a strong connection to the Slaughtneil contingent, having coached there for a few seasons alongside Paul Bradley.

Currently in charge of his native Ardboe, Devlin has had Chrissy McKaigue in coaching throughout this season while Brendan Rogers and Shane McGuigan have both spoken publically in the past of the impact ‘Horse’ had on their careers.

Their appointment represents a best-case scenario for Derry, who only announced seven days ago that Ciaran Meenagh – a former Tyrone team-mate of Devlin’s and who played under Harte - would not be staying on permanently as manager.

That had come just hours after Ulster GAA had released a statement confirming that Rory Gallagher was temporarily debarred from the association, with Derry GAA confirming to The Irish News last Tuesday that they had ruled out any prospect of his return.

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Initial speculation surrounded Malachy O’Rourke but it’s understood that Harte’s Ballygawley neighbour had indicated he wasn’t interested in taking over.

While it sorts out Derry’s problem, the suddenness of their departure from Louth leaves the Wee County with a serious job on their hands finding an adequate replacement.

After a difficult end to his time in Tyrone, Harte had bolstered his reputation again with his stint in Louth, taking them to a Leinster final and the group stages of the Sam Maguire series.

“Louth GAA management committee would like to sincerely thank Mickey, Gavin and his backroom team for their efforts in propelling Louth senior footballers into Division Two football from Division Four in 2020,” read a county board statement.

“They have shown professionalism, enthusiasm, dedication and continued courtesy over the last three years and we have enjoyed a positive working relationship with Mickey and the management team which concluded in the group stages of the All-Ireland following a first Leinster final appearance since 2010.

“Louth GAA would like to wish Mickey, Gavin and his management team all the best in their future endeavours. We now immediately begin the process in seeking a new senior football team manager.”

Louth may well look towards former Donegal boss Aidan O’Rourke, who had a previous two-year stint in charge of the Leinster side in 2013 and ‘14, although he is also currently in the frame for the Armagh minor job.