Tyrone’s RTÉ boycott to make no allowances for All-Ireland final
Mickey Harte’s stance stems from leaked letter and ‘insensitive’ broadcast in 2011
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte at Garvaghey GAA Centre, Co Tyrone. Photograph: Declan Roughan/Inpho
The national broadcaster took the step of releasing a timely statement at 9.01am on Monday morning, just prior to proceedings getting under way at the Tyrone pre-final press event in the Garvaghey GAA Centre.
It read: “Last week RTÉ Sport extended the same invitation to Tyrone GAA that it has to Dublin GAA, and all previous All-Ireland finalists with regard to participation in RTÉ coverage across television, radio and digital platforms.
“This included pre-match, day of match at Croke Park, and post-match interviews.
“Tyrone GAA have informed RTÉ Sport that the Tyrone management and players do not wish to participate in any such media activity with RTÉ and we respect that decision.”
Under the direction of new head of sport, Declan McBennett, there are some senior figures within RTÉ anxious to repair the damage to relations with Harte and the Tyrone team.
Asked if he was subject to any approach from RTÉ himself at the press event, Harte replied: “Not with me anyway.”
Having been informed about the statement, Harte added, “Well, if that’s what they did with those who have the choice over the contact, then that’s fine, I’m happy with that.”
The Tyrone management and team have had a blanket ban on contributing to RTÉ coverage since 2011, when a letter sent by Harte to their headquarters, in which he suggested RTÉ commentator Brian Carthy should have been granted a greater platform, was leaked to journalists.
In August 2011 the Tyrone management team outlined their position in a statement, which included: “Due to the portrayal of the said letter, at least one other broadcaster within the organisation acted in a most insensitive manner in the choice of their programme dialogue in a morning radio show soon after.
“Inappropriate references to the fact that the Tyrone manager Mickey Harte was associated with the Dalai Lama conference in Limerick and the choice of the song Pretty Little Girl from Omagh will give you an indication of the complete lack of sensitivity the presenter in question afforded the Harte family and Michaela’s husband, John McAreavey, in what remains for them a very difficult time.
“We hope that this statement clarifies for the general public why Mickey Harte, his management team and the players have chosen not to co-operate with RTÉ at this time.”
Some of the recent contributions from former players turned pundits was described by Harte as a “cheap shot”.
Three-time All-Ireland winner Owen Mulligan has been critical of his former manager in the past, most recently in May after Harte started Colm Cavanagh, Lee Brennan and Tiernan McCann in the Ulster Championship defeat to Monaghan, all of whom were carrying knocks into the game.
“What was criminal from Harte was that he started three injured players: Cavanagh, Brennan and McCann. None of them made an impact and they were taken off early. When you’re playing a quality side at this intensity you can’t expect to carry anyone with an injury. Surely Harte knows this?” said Mulligan at the time.
Sean Cavanagh has used even more incendiary language this season in his media appearances, suggesting at one stage in May: “Mickey’s the man, and that’s just the style of leadership he has. It’s quite an autocratic style at times but that’s just where he’s at.”
Harte responded to the various criticisms, saying, “It’s not a big issue. I mean, it’s only a big issue if you allow it to be. I mean, everybody has their opinion and sometimes that opinion is solicited from them to make a headline – and I understand that.
“Let that be as it may. I learned a long time ago that we shouldn’t determine how well we feel ourselves by what somebody else says. That’s really handing away the power of your wellbeing to somebody else.
“So let people make their comments, and if they have substance to back it up, then I’ll appreciate it. And if they haven’t, I’ll recognise it for what it is – a cheap shot.”