Cahair O’Kane in Celtic Park
QUIET week then, Mickey?
The art of the post-match interview can be a delicate one. A few softballs, get them talking, while each and every soul in the fifth estate huddle is thinking the same thing.
Mickey Harte was the talk of Ireland this week, whether he knew it or not.
Mickey Harte of Glencull, of Errigal Ciaran, three-time All-Ireland winning manager who sent Brian Dooher up the steps, now 30 yards up the line in Celtic Park in the home dugout wearing a Derry jacket and hat.
Few outside appointments have ever generated the interest this one has. The price of his past success, one he knew he would pay when he took it, a price that didn’t put him off the thought of potentially winning Sam Maguire again.
Upon the final whistle in a city rapidly falling back in love with these big days, he found Dooher in conversation and with Feargal Logan absent, their exchange was delayed, but Dooher made a point of coming to shake hands on the field before he departed.
Harte’s nephew Peter is Tyrone’s new captain but he was a late omission from their team, dropped out altogether.
Leaning against the clubhouse wall, whether for shelter from the wind or safety from the questions, Harte brushes it all away.
More than just a game? “Well for some people it was but I don’t really live that way.
“I just came along here today to manage Derry as I have done for the last four or five games, so it happens to be Tyrone who were the opposition.
“They have their own set-up, they are on their own journey, I am on this journey now.
“A lot of people make more of it than is necessary. I don’t see any big deal in it.”
Going up against Dooher and your own?
“It is not a unique phenomenon. I have seen plenty of managers go from their own county to other counties for years, and I have seen plenty of our own county men going to other counties and there was no particular fuss about it. So I really don’t see the point of a fuss now.”
He’s just presided over Derry’s fourth consecutive victory against their rivals, and indeed their sixth straight competitive win since he took over as manager.
Things are good, and if they don’t look so for his former charges, then Harte knows better than to invest too heavily in February stock.
“Things come in cycles anyway,” he said of the rivalry’s balance tipping.
“Some counties have a good run and they get a bit of momentum they can get the upper hand in duels like this. And I suppose looking at the history of the last few times Tyrone have met Derry, Derry have been better by virtue of the results they got.
“It doesn’t mean to say that that is the way it is going to be, it means that as of the last three or four games they played against each other Derry have had the upper hand.
“It doesn’t say they will have the upper hand at a more serious time of the season which is likely to happen sooner or later either in championship or Ulster so I won’t be hanging my hat on anything like that.”
Both managers took an age to depart their dressing rooms and then overlapped when they did.
Brian Dooher was without his sidekick Feargal Logan on the sideline for a day and still without an awful lot of first-team regulars. A lot of his younger blood stepped up well in a first half they’d have been pleased with, but they were so poor in the second half that it almost negated any of the good work.
“We had a reasonable enough first half, we were still in the game anyway,” said the Clan na Gael clubman.
“We worked hard and kept ourselves in contention, and with that wind, that was probably our aim.
“Second half we just came out and I suppose we had the first few chances and didn’t take them.
“We probably got a bit nervous and snapped at a few shots, and our shot selection and decision-making could have been better towards the end of it.
“But I couldn’t fault the effort in general. They worked really hard, but that bit of decision-making at that end of the filed just want were it needed to be in that second half.”