Mickey Harte hits out at ‘childish’ analysis of Tyrone forwards

Manager says the assertion that his side miss a marquee forward is a ‘tired sound bite’

Tyrone’s Connor McAliskey shoots past Eoin Murchan of Dublin during the All-Ireland SFC final at Croke Park. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Tyrone’s Connor McAliskey shoots past Eoin Murchan of Dublin during the All-Ireland SFC final at Croke Park. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Mickey Harte has hit back at “tired sound bite” journalists following his team’s defeat in Sunday’s All-Ireland final.

After his team kicked 16 wides – in comparison to Dublin’s tally of six – some have referenced a lack of a marquee forward as reason for Tyrone’s shortcomings.

“I just think it’s a tired sound bite, it really is,” explained the 66-year-old Tyrone manager, speaking at Citywest hotel on Monday morning.

“The game has moved on, and people are living in the distant past. It’s just a lack of independent analysis and thinking and it’s actually boring. People never really dig into them and say, ‘is there substance to this kind of statement or not?’ Give us something better than that you know?

Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons battles with Tyrone’s Lee Brennan and Peter Harte at Croke Park. Harte, like most of Tyrone’s big names, was kept very quiet. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons battles with Tyrone’s Lee Brennan and Peter Harte at Croke Park. Harte, like most of Tyrone’s big names, was kept very quiet. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
It’s not about being a marquee forward; it’s about the number of quality finishers wherever they come from on the field

“That’s what being an analyst should be about. It should be insightful and trying to come up with new ways of describing things rather than leading on some old clichéd throwaway.”

Dublin and Tyrone’s top scorers Dean Rock and Connor McAliskey both managed the same total this summer, although Rock’s 2-41 came in three games less than McCaliskey’s. Tyrone scored 17-164 in 10 matches, an average of 1-19 per match.

“This thing called marquee forwards; it’s something of the past. It’s not about being a marquee forward; it’s about the number of quality finishers wherever they come from on the field.

“ If you have a marquee forward and he’s double-teamed and stuffed out of the game, what do the rest of the people do? Do they say ‘oh, our marquee forwards are not getting seven or eight points’ when we are beaten? And the fact that a forward is only described as marquee because he gets six, seven or eight points in a match, to me is absolutely childish.

I know there were moves afoot to try to get me to go or to get, the need for change, as often happens in peoples’ minds

“We have plenty of marquee forwards who are quality players who can do lots of things with the ball, and if somebody wants to give me the definition of a marquee forward, I’ll give them plenty of them, not people who get 0-6 0-7 or 0-8 in a game.”

Bladder cancer

The criticism Harte has faced over the years hasn’t been exclusive to the media. He revealed this week that he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in early 2015 and received ongoing treatment up until last December, when he finally got the all-clear.

“I know there were moves afoot to try to get me to go or to get, the need for change, as often happens in peoples’ minds. But no, I think it was important that I had the football to take your mind to other things and to have something to drive for.

Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan with Colm Cavanagh of Tyrone. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan with Colm Cavanagh of Tyrone. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

“It was difficult obviously, when you get that news it’s not something you want to hear. But I was very, very lucky that I got the best possible treatment in Craigavon Hospital.

“Yeah, it was a shock to the system at a time when we weren’t going very well as a team either. We maybe got relegated that year I think, in 2015, and it seemed to be like things were taking a turn for the bad, so to speak. But thank God things came good again.”

Since then Harte has won two Ulster titles, and a Division Two league. He has no intention of calling it a day any time soon either, after being given a three year extension last September: “This is just the first of them over, so I have no real desire to walk away from that. No, not at all.”

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