Tyrone performed well on Sunday and looked superior to Kerry for large spells throughout their All-Ireland semi-final but ultimately faltered down the home stretch as Stephen O’Brien’s goal ignited the Kingdom to push on and claim a three-point win in Croke Park.
For Mickey Harte and Tyrone, it’s back to the drawing board following a topsy turvy season that saw them struggle in the early stages of the league before finishing with four consecutive wins. They entered the Ulster Championship as favourites but were out-thought and out-fought in their provincial semi-final clash with Donegal before embarking on yet another mazy run through the qualifiers.
By the time Tyrone made it to the Super 8s they had rediscovered some of their form and looked primed and ready to mount a serious assault on the All-Ireland series when securing a semi-final spot with a game to spare. However, their season is now at an end following back-to-back defeats to this year’s All-Ireland finalists, Dublin and Kerry.
Following their championship exit, Harte expressed that he wasn’t disappointed following the two defeats but more with the narrative that surrounds them. Judging by his remarks, Harte was clear in his intentions that Tyrone will return.
“No, it’s not disappointing but it’s disappointing to hear the narrative that comes out about that because we did beat them in other competitions, we beat both of them in the league and pushed them close on many other occasions,” Harte said.
“And the times that we beat those teams in the past, there was a kick of the ball here or there, we could have lost them just as much as won them so the teams that won it in those situations can be grateful they got the rub of green in those situations and made it count, and this current group of players are on the unfortunate side of the levelling off of that statistic.
“So one day that will be put to bed, so don’t worry about that.
However, will Harte be the one to lead them into the white-heat of championship football in 2020?
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) August 11, 2019
Tyrone legend and three-time All-Ireland winner, Sean Cavanagh, feels it may be time for a change within the county set-up after 17 very fruitful seasons under the tutelage of Mickey Harte.
“He’s been an amazing servant for the county; the three All-Ireland titles, But the reality is that the likes of Art McRory and Eugene McKenna were there for a long time before him and did amazing work as well. And there does come a time when that baton has to be passed on,” Cavanagh said on last night’s Sunday Game.
“He’s given his life to Tyrone football but there are other guys there. The likes of Fergal Logan, Peter Canavan, Brian Dooher are big names in Tyrone football as well. And the core of that team today won an U21 title with those guys. Maybe it’s time for someone like that in.
“The reality is, no one can fault Mickey Harte but time moves on.”
Following yesterday’s heartbreaking defeat, Harte gave no indication that his time as Tyrone manager was up. The Errigal Ciarán club man spoke about his team in glowing terms while describing them as a work in progress who will continue to compete at a high level.
“I think this team is a work in progress and I think they will continue to compete at a high level and I think they will get better, and I have no reason not to think that because if you look at their history and record over the last few years it’s been very consistent and consistently getting better each year, and sometimes just because you didn’t get to the place you got last year it doesn’t mean this team isn’t better.”
When pressed on whether he had the same energy and desire to lead the team in 2020, a smiling Harte was emphatic in his response.
“I sure do!”
Whether you agree with Cavanagh’s comments or not one thing is for sure. If Mickey Harte has it his way, he will be back for season number 18.