There is one thing that I have noticed over the last 10 to 15 years and that is in GAA circles, allegiances mean very little.
The GAA was rocked this week with the news that Mickey Harte would become the next Derry senior football team manager.
I’m sure when considering who would become the next manager, the Derry players or supporters never even glanced in the direction of Mickey Harte, so this appointment really comes out of the blue.
Do I blame Harte for going to Derry? Absolutely not because, like I said, over the last number of years the landscape with the club and county football has changed so much with managers willing to go anywhere and manage anyone.
Now this is something I need to get off my chest. I’m not speaking about anyone in particular, including Harte, but the main reason for many managers moving here there and everywhere is the lucrative offers that are available to them.
If we go back years ago when managers were doing it for the love of the game, it was way easier to say that you would never manage against your own.
Now, with the kind of offers that are been thrown about it makes peoples’ heads turn – and just to reiterate, I’m talking generally about some managers, not all, and not Harte, but crossing the divide is common in the game now.
All I’m saying more broadly is look at the people who have moved about over the last number of years between clubs or counties, and you will come back to one common denominator – finance.
Getting away from that side of it, because it’s well above my pay grade, I want to focus on whether or not this is the correct decision for Derry football and for Mickey Himself.
Let’s start with Mickey Harte and we know how football runs through his veins.
So, I suppose, when the opportunity presented itself to manage one of the top teams again, he was definitely going to consider it.
He has already gotten a backlash from some of his former players, including my mate ‘Mugsy’, but I’m sure he expected that’s the moment he agreed to take the job on.
If he wins an Ulster title or he manages to land the big one, he will be regarded as perhaps as the best manager of all time considering what he has already achieved.
Should he fail, then big question marks will hang over his name. It’s not for you or I to judge that part of it because, at the end of the day, Mickey is his own man.
If he feels this is right for him then it’s absolutely the right thing to do for him.
From a Derry point of view looking from the outside in, I’m asking myself is this the proper appointment to take Derry football forward. Now I don’t mean that in a nasty way. What I mean is that, for me, Derry started off as being ultra defensive under Rory Gallagher which brought a certain level of success.
However, they realised over the last year or two that their defensive structure was never going to win them an All-Ireland, so they slowly began to change the way they played, albeit they kept their defensive structure.
The history books will show us that Mickey Harte prefers his teams to set up defensively, so I am asking myself the question – what will he do differently that will enable Derry football to push forward and challenge for that All-Ireland title? Like I said, their defensive structure will get them so far, but it will never land then the big one.
What the appointment does do is add another spark to the Ulster Championship campaign. We now have two of the old rivals back in town in Mickey Harte and Jim McGuinness. Both have been out of the Ulster Championship scene for a while, so it will be interesting to see if they can adapt to the modern style. Or will they bring something new? Roll on the new season.