Morgan Treacy/INPHO Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
# red handover
'Tyrone need a new face, a new voice, a new management team' - is it time for Mickey Harte to go?
The Red Hand crashed out of the championship yesterday to conclude Harte’s 18th year in charge.

AFTER THEIR EARLY championship exit, Tyrone need “a new face, a new voice, a new management team,” says Pat Spillane.

On last night’s The Sunday Game on RTÉ, the Kerry man said he believes it’s time for Mickey Harte to step away after 18 seasons in charge.

Harte has steered the Red Hand to three All-Ireland titles and six Ulster crowns since taking the reins in 2003.

Sam Maguire successes followed in 2003, 2005 and 2008, while they returned to the showpiece 10 years after their last triumph in 2018. 

After a 1-13 to 1-11 defeat at the hands of back-to-back Ulster champions Donegal in Ballybofey yesterday in the provincial quarter-final, their 2020 tilt is over.

And many feel the time for change is now.

“In my time in Gaelic football, there have been four top-class managers, the four greatest managers of all time,” eight-time All-Ireland champion Spillane said. “Mick O’Dwyer, Jim Gavin, Kevin Heffernan and Mickey Harte.

“His record is unbelievable — three All-Ireland seniors, an All-Ireland minor, an All-Ireland U21, a National League.

“But an English politician once said that the history of politicians always ends in failure, so does the history of sports people and sports managers. Knowing when is the last hurrah is a difficult thing. Most players get it wrong, most managers get it wrong.

“It’s 12 years since Tyrone last won an All-Ireland, it’s 17 years since they last won a league title.

“Were they close to it in recent times? No. Were they close to it this year? No. Will they be close to an All-Ireland next year?

He’s been a brilliant servant, owes nothing to Tyrone football but Tyrone is in need of a new face, a new voice, a new management team. That’s what they need.” 

Sitting alongside Spillane in studio, former Tyrone star Seán Cavanagh was more diplomatic, saying he believes the current side — who have been boosted by the additions of Conor McKenna and Darragh Canavan, with Cathal McShane set to return next year meaning a “real, real talented forward unit” — are good enough to be in the mix at the business end of the season.

Moy’s Cavanagh won three Celtic Crosses under Harte as a player, before retiring in 2017.

“It’s a tricky one,” he said. “I don’t think there’s ever a right time to go.

sean-cavanagh-and-mickey-harte-celebrate-after-the-game Lorraine.O'Sullivan Sean Cavanagh and Mickey Harte in 2018. Lorraine.O'Sullivan

“Mickey has been a phenomenal servant for Tyrone GAA. It’s probably more the case of when is the right time to introduce someone new, or a new management team to bring the new group of players that is coming.

“We can’t get away from the fact that it’s been 12 years since we’ve beaten a Mayo, a Dublin or a Kerry in championship football.

“I take my blame for a lot of that but certainly, I think Tyrone has to find a way now to compete at the very top because I think we’ve the talent to do it.”


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“There’s no right or wrong answer,” he concluded. “You would hope Mickey would be able to have that conversations with the county board to decide when the time is right [to step away] but there’s probably never a right time.”

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