Mickey Harte has earned the right to stay as long as he wants - Peter Canavan
Published 05/05/2015 | 02:30
Mickey Harte has earned the right to decide how long he wants to remain on as Tyrone football manager, according to his most celebrated player.
Peter Canavan was part of a high-profile U-21 management team that also featured the county's other All-Ireland-winning captain Brian Dooher with manager Feargal Logan, a pivotal player on the 1995 All-Ireland final team that lost to Dublin, as they swept to a fifth All-Ireland title in the grade on Saturday night.
For many, their triumph, which culminated in a one-point final win over Tipperary, elevates the trio as the most likely successors for a job that has not been on offer for the last 13 years.
But Canavan was adamant after Saturday night's win that the Tyrone senior job should be Harte's for as long as he wants it.
With relegation from Division 1 and his latest agreement not stretching beyond the end of this season, Harte's future as Tyrone manager is not as clear as it has been in the past.
When asked about a likely succession for his group, Canavan sought to distance them from it.
"We're not thinking any further ahead. The man that Tyrone has there at the minute, I don't think there's anybody would question his credentials," said the 2003 All-Ireland-winning captain.
"He is the best man for the job. And he'll remain there as long as he wants to be there. I think the players are very happy with that and I'm very happy with that."
Canavan reaffirmed Logan's insistence that they never coached their team in a cynical way and rejected any suggestion that they had played that way on Saturday night.
"I would be very disappointed with that because, if you ask any of those players in there have they been coached in cynical play this year, they will give you a very honest answer.
"So I would be very disappointed if this team was labelled that because that's not the way they're coached.
"If there was cynical play, it was towards the end of the game when there is a team hanging on to a slender lead and it was instinct that may have took over in some cases.
"But I'll make it clear: I have trained the team and there has been no cynical play involved in our training sessions. Those fellas will back that up."
Canavan felt Tipperary's reaction to losing - Logan was refused entry to their dressing-room afterwards - was based on high emotion.
"We could all look back at different incidents that happened in that game. It could happen in any competitive game when there is so much at stake.
"I'm not aware who made that statement but when they look back and reflect on it, they will say, 'That's not the case'. We didn't get here today playing cynical football."
Canavan felt the extra 40 minutes break after half-time, as medics treated two supporters in the crowd who had suffered cardiac arrest, may have worked more in their favour.
"I spoke to the referee and we told him that the game was secondary to someone's life in the crowd and we were prepared to wait whatever length of time it took.
"So it wasn't a problem. From a motivational point of view, the lads were really focused and hyped and really busting through the doors when we went back in again.
"So it was difficult. But what it did do was give us more time to reflect on the first half and get our heads right for the second half.
"And what it also did was maybe give Tipperary a chance to think of how close they were to an All-Ireland. And, if anything, we thought this could work to our advantage."
Canavan is sure a fifth All-Ireland U-21 title will provide a lift for the county ahead of their visit to Ballybofey in 12 days' time for their Ulster Championship opener against Donegal.
"It's good to know that we have men there who have what it takes to win All-Ireland titles. And that will stand them in good stead in future years.
"And the other point is I was speaking to a number of the senior players out on the pitch afterwards and I have no doubt that it will serve as a fillip to them and give them a bit of encouragement going into Ballybofey, where everybody is writing them off and they have no chance of winning."