herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Devastated Mickey's unique bond with his only daughter

DEVASTATED Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has gained a reputation as the greatest tactical coach in Gaelic football in the 21st century.

Known for his ice-cool persona, Harte is respected across the country for his ability to get the very best from those around him.

Married to Marian, Mickey (58) has three sons, Mark, Michael and Matthew, and his only daughter Michaela, with whom he had a very close relationship.

Michaela followed her father's managerial career religiously and the nature of their relationship is illustrated in each of his books.

The first page of Kicking Down Heaven's Door, Mickey Harte's insightful diary of the 2003 season when they achieved All-Ireland glory, contained a handwritten letter from Michaela.



Predictions

The then 13-year-old made a series of predictions on a letter dated Sept 1997, the day after Tyrone's All-Ireland minor final defeat by Laois.

The teenager made three predictions, the genesis of which was that "special" 1997 team. As she predicted, 12 months later, Tyrone returned to win the minor title.

Two years later, Tyrone won the All-Ireland under-21 title, just as Michaela prophesied. And just over three years later, right on cue, the third prediction came true when Tyrone claimed their first-ever All-Ireland title.

The pair created an iconic image in Tyrone history as they embraced each other at the final whistle of Tyrone's 2003 All-Ireland triumph.

Tyrone and Harte were to suffer tragedy in 2004 when Mickey's newly appointed captain died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. In 2005, when Tyrone reclaimed the title, Mickey Harte paid an emotional tribute to Cormac McAnallen.

Mickey Harte had a brush with death in 2008 when he was involved in a collision with a lorry and his car left the road, but he miraculously escaped the crash with cuts and bruises.

Born in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, in 1952, Mickey Harte's enthusiasm for Gaelic football was evident from his days as a pupil in Omagh Christian Brothers School where he represented his school in Ulster Colleges tournaments.

He played at underage level with his local club Ballygawley St Ciarans, and at university level with St Joseph's Teacher Training College in Belfast. The retired PE teacher was a member of the Tyrone senior football team from 1975 to 1982.

Following his retirement from his playing career he became involved in coaching at local level and school level with instant success. He became Tyrone minor manager in 1997 in what would become a very successful year, which began in tragedy.

Tyrone player Paul McGirr from the Dromore club sustained a fatal injury during a preliminary round game against Armagh.

hnews@herald.ie

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