'Huge loss' of Tyrone S&C coach, Harte's future and watching back Kerry defeat

Red Hand midfielder Richie Donnelly has backed Mickey Harte to remain in charge.

RICHIE DONNELLY HAS backed Mickey Harte to remain in charge of Tyrone following their exit at the All-Ireland semi-final stage earlier this month.

richard-donnelly Tyrone midfielder Richie Donnelly. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Harte confirmed his desire to continue as manager following the conclusion of their campaign, but former player Sean Cavanagh said the time may have come for the legendary boss to pass the baton on. 

Donnelly said Harte, who led the county to three All-Irelands at senior level, retains the backing of the Red Hand squad.

Asked if he’d be in favour of the Errigal Ciaran clubman remaining in charge, Donnelly responded: “I would yeah. As long as Mickey’s there he’ll have the application and the desire from all the players. 

“We want to play for him, we want to win for him. He’s done a huge amount for Tyrone GAA and especially this group because we’ve all inherited the Tyrone jersey that he’s given us the privilege to do so.

“So we’re forever grateful for that so as long as he’s there we’ll be playing for him.”

Heading into 2020, Tyrone will be without Stephen O’Neill and Peter Donnelly who’ve both left Harte’s backroom team recently.

Highly-rated strength and conditioning coach Donnelly departed the set-up to join Ulster Rugby’s academy.

Donnelly, a two-time All-Ireland winner with the county as a player, was credited with having Harte’s side as one of the best-conditioned teams in the country, while he also worked with the minor and U20 county panels.

peter-donnelly Former Tyrone player Peter Donnelly, who recently departed as S&C coach. Source: INPHO

“Peter will be a huge loss,” says Donnelly. “He brought a lot to the set up in terms of strength and conditioning and the on-field coaching and training too.

“On a personal level, he had a great relationship with the players too. A huge figure. Obviously, on a professional level he was brilliant at what he does.”

Donnelly the bullet during the week and watched back the tape of the 1-18 to 0-18 loss to Kerry. 

The Red Hand made the final last year but this time around Donnelly will be a spectator in Croke Park for football’s showpiece game.

“I watched it back last Wednesday evening. It probably adds to the hangover and makes things worse but it’s something you have to face up. If you want to start win them sort of games and get over the line you need to watch it back and learn from it.

“It’s not something to shy away from. It’s hard but it’s what’s required for improvement.

“From speaking with a few of the boys, it is very much individual thing firstly but I know a lot of the boys would be on the same wavelength in that you have to face it up, look back and see where we can improve and where the game changed or how we ended up being on the wrong side of the result.

“Everyone’s different I suppose, some boys might never look at the game and some will, it’s just up to the individual really.

“You look at it to improve yourself firstly and then you look at it from a team perspective. But definitely, I’d be one for always assessing and looking where you can get better as an individual and collectively.”

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londis-senior-all-ireland-football-7s-launch Donnelly was speaking at the launch of the Londis Senior All-Ireland Football 7s at Kilmacud Crokes GAA Club. Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

Donnelly, who turns 27 this month, enjoyed his most consistent campaign for the county in 2019 and puts much of that down to staying injury-free. 

“I suppose I made a lot of progress this year in terms of performing at the level that’s required. And I probably feel this is the first year where I’m at the level that’s required to play at this level.

“So I was happy with it, I’ve improved year on year and I’m very much a late developer I think. I’m just coming 27 now but I’m learning every year and it’s something I’m enjoying.

“Whenever I first came into the inter-county set-up I struggled with the load of it. The training, the intensity and that, and the body just wasn’t right for it. I suppose that kind of halted my progress the last three or four years. But within the last 18 months I’ve started to really enjoy it and seen good progress just from playing games at that level.

“When I came into the squad I was ticking them boxes in terms of doing the S&C and whatever’s required but it’s a huge and spike in training load and intensity. It’s more a maturity thing where you’re physically mature and your body can width stand it better.

“You kind of stumble across a pattern or a way of training that suits your body and you just learn what’s best for your body when you go along. I’m kind of at that stage now.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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