Posted by Shane Stapleton

Experience More sat down with Eircom GAA ambassador Mickey Harte to find out who he would like to transfer into Tyrone, who is the Paul Galvin the panel and the manager he most admires outside of Gaelic football — among other things

2013 Mickey HarteExperience More sat down with eircom GAA ambassador Mickey Harte to find out who he would like to transfer into Tyrone, who is the Paul Galvin of the panel and the manager he most admires outside of Gaelic football — among other things

EXPERIENCE MORE: Hi Mickey. So to start off, what has been the score of the season?
MICKEY: I have to be biased here, of course, but I think Stephen O’Neill’s solo dummy on Peter Kelly in our National League semi-final against Kildare, where he bought it hook, line and sinker. Then Stevie had the composure to stick it over from an acute angle. I think that’s as good a score as we’ll see this season in Croke Park.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What has been the save of the season?
MICKEY: I’d be going biased again but Niall Morgan had a penalty save against Michael Murphy in our National League game in Omagh. That’s just biased again because I remember them so much better than others.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What has been the tactical development of this season — what's caught your eye?
MICKEY: Not a lot caught my eye but a lot more teams are working on the defensive set-up. You can see more teams consciously thinking of getting players behind the ball, and trying to break forward at pace. With the exception, obviously, of Dublin. So it’s kind of two things: lots of teams are adopting a defensive strategy while Dublin are going for all-out attack. Cavan are a team that have been working on the defensive strategy a bit but have brought it on over the course of the season and, for a single match, Monaghan did it in the Ulster final to a high level against Donegal.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What has been your biggest disappointment of the season?
MICKEY: What was disappointing for me, in a strange kind of way, was the disproportionate reporting of incidents on the field. The tirade that has been launched against Sean Cavanagh to me is a most disappointing thing. He is one of the most influential players for attractive, positive football in a long career, starting with his first All-Ireland when he was scarcely 20 years of age, and now he’s 30 years of age and he’s been a total sportsman all that time. The amount of disproportionate attention that has been given to a foul he committed in a single game, I think that’s so disappointing.

EXPERIENCE MORE: If you were to name Football of the Year in the morning, who would it be?
MICKEY: The Footballer of the Year will come from the All-Ireland finalists, I think that’s been par for the course. So from one of the semi-finalists then: Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea, Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh, Kerry’s Colm Cooper, or Dublin’s Paul Flynn. I don’t want to be seem biased again but probably Sean Cavanagh!

EXPERIENCE MORE: From any era, if you could transfer any one player to your county, which would make yours an All-Ireland winning team?
MICKEY: I would pick Darragh O Se. He’s got just about everything that a midfielder would need and he’d be the perfect complement to Sean Cavanagh. If you wanted someone in your team who would always make a difference in winning games, it would have to be Darragh O Se. I think he was the class midfielder of the last decade.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who has given your team the most memorable motivational speech ever — from inside or outside the camp?
MICKEY: It would have to be Gavin Devlin because every time he speaks, he speaks with complete and total passion. I just go back to the 2000 All-Ireland under-21 final against Limerick, he just had the boys jumping out of their shirts. Not because of the detail of what he said but just because of the sheer passion in which he said it. He is a true Tyrone man to every ounce of blood in his veins.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What's the toughest training camp/day/weekend Tyrone have ever done?
MICKEY: It’s a strange sort of thing and this is not to be high-filluting – we don’t really go in for real tough, horrid training sessions in terms of putting people to the limit. Honestly, I prefer to be working at high intensity for shorter times and having quality in what you do. Some people think that having these boot camps where you drive people into the ground, it may for work them… I have never applied that methodology to any of our training. It’s always about being balanced and that the players are fit to do it at a high level. We don’t really go in for those tough, mythical sessions that people would says ‘God, that’s a serious bit of stuff’. As for bonding weekends, going back in time with the under-21s, we would go off and a have day of activities. A forest in Pomeroy comes to mind, we had people in from ‘One Step Beyond’ and Hugh Campbell, who has since worked with Armagh and other teams in that field of bonding and personal development through activity. There was high-wire work — climb up this pole and jump off and hit a bell while people were holding you. The thing that struck me was that this was a daunting task that you were asking players to do — for some it wasn’t daunting, but for others it was most daunting — but just the sheer support from people to help them do something that was one step beyond them and that happened in our own county. I thought it was so good for the rest of the team to be able to encourage someone to do it.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who is the joker on the panel?
MICKEY: I think Joe McMahon would be the one because he just has this class ability for this deadpan expression. So making you believe that what he is saying is serious and true, and then you’re thinking “are you for real?’ and then this smile breaks. He’s just a class act at winding people up.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who was the best trainer?
MICKEY: Back in time, when you talk about the best trainer in Tyrone, you can’t look past Brian Dooher. Everybody who ever played with him, around him, or even spent one session with him wouldn’t argue with that. Followed closely by people like Philip Jordan.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who is the best and worst dressed?
MICKEY: I’m going to just pick on young Tiernan McCann here for worst dressed. The boys in training think he’s the worst dressed because he’s too modern for them; he’s only a young fella, 21 years of age, and he has the Paul Galvin-style clothing. I think people approaching 30 think that’s too cool. For best dressed, I would have to go with somebody more conservative, somebody like Stephen O’Neill. He’s more of a sensible era where he puts on something that traditional Gaelic footballers would wear.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Which player loves the media attention?
MICKEY: Strangely, no one. No one loves it because we’re long enough at this business to be aware that if you attract press attention and get to like, the rise to fame is much lower than the drop that comes after it. So I think players are very wary that they’ll treat the media with a certain level of suspicion and it’s a job that has to be done because people need some information. But I think our players now are wise enough not to get carried away because if they did it as individuals, the bodies around them would soon take them back to base. I think there’s a certain air of scepticism around attracting media attention and I think that’s no bad thing.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who is the ladies' man of the panel?
MICKEY: My answer to that is that I don’t mix in the circles that those young men are in so I couldn’t possibly comment.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What player from another sport do you most admire?
MICKEY: It would have to be Henry Shefflin, just because of the sheer quality of the man for the period of time that he has remained at that level. His leadership, his skill set — just his demeanour as a decent human being. Everybody would have to say that he’s a special man. If we were to step outside of our own games, I like Paul O’Connell’s ability lead teams to challenge the big task and he just has that ability to lead people to places where it’s not easy to go.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What manager from another sport do you admire?
MICKEY: It would have to be Alex Ferguson, if I’m supporting Manchester United from a distance since 1966. What he has done with the team over the years that he has been manager… it’s not so much that he brought them so many titles, he did it over a period of time where the team had to be built and rebuilt and he was still able to maintain a serious turn of trophies. So I like what he did.

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