Binning league finals would be a disgrace: Harte

By Michael McMullan

DERRY manager Mickey Harte insists it would be a “disgrace” to do away with league finals and feels there is too much “whinging” about the state of football.

The Oakleafers’ win over Roscommon earned top spot ahead of Sunday’s final showdown with Dublin.

Had Derry been presented with the cup on Sunday at Celtic Park, Harte felt it would’ve been an anti-climax without having a winner takes all final in the calendar.

“I don’t think that’s a thing to get excited about,” he said of winning the competition without a final.

Harte won the league in his first year as both Tyrone and Louth manager and has steered Derry to top of the pile after 10 wins from 11 games this season.

“I think it would be a disgrace to take away the league finals,” Harte said while using the example of teams in the lower leagues having their day out in Croke Park as the highlight of their year.

“(It’s) probably as big a day as they’re ever going to get, a lot of them,” he stressed.

“So why would you take that away? And again, I think it would be an anti-climax if today the league was over and the team that’s ahead would just win the league.

“You go to Croke Park, you play in a final and you win or you lose but it’s a big day out,” Harte continued.

Finals are there as a challenge, a focus and something to be embraced he insisted.

“What’s the big deal?” Harte questioned. “One more week’s football, if that only meant shoving the championship on a week then, so be it but I just can’t understand it.”

Speaking earlier this season, after his side’s win over Galway, the Derry boss didn’t feel the need for rule changes. Aside from binning the advanced mark, the game needed to be left well alone.

“I tend to agree with Kieran McGeeney,” he said after Sunday’s win over Roscommon. “There’s too many people whinging about today’s football and I think it’s a very good product.”

While accepting there are below par games and days when play is a “bit pedestrian” but feels it’s not the norm.

He feels there has been exciting football in this year’s league with higher scorelines.

“I’ve seen a lot of football since the sixties nearly and the seventies and if we go back and look at that today, it’s not very exciting,” he said. “But it was the best there was at that time and everybody accepted that.

“I never remember a whole host of people looking to change the rules, tear up the script, write new rules, do everything.

“Just leave it alone for a change and take out the positives that’s happening in the game and accept that there’ll be negatives and there’ll be some games that won’t be as good as others and some teams won’t be as efficient as others or as good simply on the field.

“That’s life, but just to go write new rules because of that, some of the rules that are suggested are a bit crazy too but that’s a debate for another day.”

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