Friday 19 January 2018

Harte finds solace away from trial with GAA friends

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

FOR a brief period yesterday, Mickey Harte attempted to put the horror of what was unfolding thousands of miles away to the back of his mind.

He was among friends and in familiar territory.

In the Ash Suite of Croke Park, high above the sun-drenched pitch, which has been the site of so many fond memories, the Tyrone manager appeared at ease.

For the press photographers in the room, he was the focus of attention following last week's dramatic court evidence in Mauritius about the private life of his daughter Michaela and her husband John McAreavey.

As a GAA ambassador, he had been invited to the launch of the first interactive GAA football championship timeline.

It showcases some of the more memorable moments in the sport.

He chatted and mingled before taking his seat at the front row.

On the wall was a photo of Tyrone battling for the 2003 All-Ireland final against Armagh under Mr Harte's stewardship -- the first time the county brought home the Sam Maguire.

Above it was the somewhat apt title, given the circumstances -- Brave Harte.

Mr Harte's daughter Michaela, a constant presence at her father's side following the county's successes, reportedly taught the Tyrone team how to sing 'Amhran na bhFiann' ahead of that now famous all-Ulster clash.

Yesterday, Mr Harte sat recounting the details of that game, while more than 6,000 miles away the trial of the two men accused of murdering his daughter continued.

Seated on a stool, with his grizzled look and a microphone in his hand, he spoke softly of his memories.

It was a brief appearance, and followed other GAA legends Jack O'Shea and Brian Mullins as they talked of their thoughts about the 1977 semi-final match between Dublin and Kerry.

The audience laughed when Mr Harte joked following a comment from the compere that in 2003 he didn't use chalk and a blackboard to talk tactics with the team.

It was all DVDs by then, he quipped.

Embrace

As the event drew to a close, the GAA ambassadors shook his hand, while Mr O'Shea and Mr Mullins gave him a slight embrace.

The Tyrone manager took questions from reporters after the launch, but the focus was solely on sport and Saturday's game between Tyrone and Armagh.

He made no mention of Mauritius, nor was he asked about it by the press. His handler had indicated that it was off bounds.

Irish Independent

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