Mickey Harte: ‘I feel hurt but it’s not like the real hurt of loss’
Tyrone manager uses daughter Michaela’s 2011 death to put things into perspective
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte shakes hands with Dublin’s Jim Gavin at the end of the All-Ireland SFC final. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Mickey Harte knows that the pain of his team’s defeat in Sunday’s All-Ireland football final is “not like the hurt of real loss.”
The three-time All-Ireland winning Tyrone manager had to endure the death of his daughter Michaela McAreavey, tragically murdered while on her honeymoon in Mauritius in January of 2011.
“Obviously the different perspective is that football can become a life and death issue for people who have never experienced life and death issues,” the Tyrone manager explained, talking the morning after his team’s six point defeat to Dublin.
“I understand that and they’re passionate about the sport and they’re heartbroken about this here and so I would never take away from their sort of sense of hurt or loss. I would perfectly understand it, but I would like them to think outside the box as well and see there’s many worse things that you can wake up to on a Monday morning.
“Just think about that, that people have to think and wake up to those things, things that are more permanent. I’ll think about their hurt and loss as football people and fanatics and I appreciate that and I empathise with it but I’d ask them to think about how people wake up to something that can never be the same again, and there’s never another chance to get back to where you’d have liked to be.
“And then they’ll begin to understand that while it may be life and death in words, in real terms it’s not. There are things that are more important than that. So I have to think carefully about the balance of that and not be taking away from people’s normal day to day sense of loss in terms of sport.
“But that’s maybe what makes this more possible for me today, I would have probably been more heartbroken about this if life had been different in our case. But the fact that I know something that’s much much worse than this and never could be compared to this, then I feel hurt about this but it’s not like the real hurt of loss.”
The 66 year-old believes that his young team fell short on the day in terms of experience and the by-products of that – decision making and efficiency. Following the match, Dublin manager Jim Gavin commended the Ulster county, who to a man, remained on the pitch while his team lifted Sam Maguire.
“I think it’s good manners to just stay out there on the pitch and let the winners have their day and have their say,” Harte said. “Maybe it was just those young men savouring those moments as well. Maybe there’s something in them saying I’ve watched this from the floor here, I’d like to watch it from the stands.
“For every sort of bad day there’s always a good day and maybe that’s the way of life. Enjoy the times that are good and then manage the things that are not.”
As for the flow of the match itself, Harte reflects on the impact made by Dublin’s key men. Despite his best efforts.
“They have a pattern of play and there’s a few key players a lot of that play goes through. So knowing it is one thing and being able to negate it is another thing. But of course you would have to be conscious of the amount of ball that Ciarán Kilkenny handles and how instrumental that he is in how things operate for Dublin as a team.
“And Brian Fenton I suppose is that elusive midfielder who in the modern era of a sweeper – it depends where your sweeper comes from – our sweeper comes from the middle of the field. Therefore we’re going to be light in the middle of the field a lot of the time therefore there’s going to be more freedom for him. So we have to get somebody else to pick up the slack so to speak.
“It’s sort of horses for courses and mix and match for what needs to be done. And yes you had to think about those things, but again, thinking about them and knowing what you’d like to do about it and being able to do it is a different matter when you’re dealing with quality players.
“Obviously the most major factor though in why we didn’t win the game is the quality of Dublin, and perhaps the inefficiency of our finishing.”