Tyrone give Harte solace on return
Grieving Tyrone manager Mickey Harte was back on the sideline for his side's Dr McKenna Cup game against Donegal yesterday.
Less than a week after the funeral of his daughter Michaela, he found the strength to join his players for their opening game of the season at Edendork.
A minute's silence was impeccably observed, black armbands worn to mourn her loss, and tears, more tears, were shed on another emotionally charged evening in the heart of Tyrone.
After the game, Harte sent out a message of thanks to all who had lent support to his family since the tragedy. "I want to say a big thank you to all the people of our local community, our local GAA club Errigal Ciaran, the Tyrone County Board, the GAA at Ulster Council level, the GAA at All-Ireland level, the diplomatic people in the southern government, the people in the Assembly here," he said.
"People from every sport in this province and in this country have been so gracious in their support of us, and we really appreciate it. Maybe we'll never get the chance to say it to them all collectively again, but it is very, very well received by us all. The prayers and good wishes have really brought us through, because I can't imagine how we would have got through without it."
Tyrone made a strong start to a game switched at short notice from a frozen Healy Park and after Mark Donnelly poked home a 12th-minute goal, they led by 1-6 to 0-2, with half-backs Dermot Carlin and Davy Harte adding to scores from Sean Cavanagh and Martin Penrose.
But Donegal suddenly hit form and scored eight points without reply in the final 15 minutes of the half, including two each from Daniel McLaughlin, Dermot Molloy and Karl Lacey, to lead by 0-10 to 1-6 at the break.
Tyrone's task was made more difficult by a straight red card to Colm Cavanagh in first-half stoppage time, but Donegal also went down to 14 men four minutes into the second half when Neil McGee was sent off.
Ryan McMenamin, Carlin, Cavanagh, Brian McGuigan and Enda McGinley raised their game, and Aidan Cassidy gave Tyrone a lead they never lost.
Colm McFadden, Ryan McErlane and Molloy were on target to keep Donegal in touch, but Tyrone held firm, and sealed the win with late scores from McGuigan and Cassidy.
Scorers -- Tyrone: M Donnelly 1-1, S Cavanagh 0-3 (3f), A Cassidy, B McGuigan, M Penrose (1f) 0-2 each, D Harte, D Carlin, R McMenamin 0-1 each. Donegal: D Molloy 0-3 (2f), D McLaughlin, K Lacey, C McFadden 0-2 each, L McLoone, R Kavanagh, R McErlane, O MacNiallais 0-1 each.
Tyrone -- J Curran; A McCrory, C McCarron, M Swift; D Harte, D Carlin, R McMenamin; A Cassidy, S Cavanagh; C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, C Gervin; M Penrose, E McGinley, M Donnelly. Subs: K Hughes for Girvan, P McNeice for Donnelly.
Donegal -- P Durkan; P McGrath, N McGee, K Mulhern; L Keeney, L McLoone, K Cassidy; R Kavanagh, C Classon; D McLaughlin, D Molloy, O MacNiallais; K Lacey, R McErlane, C McFadden. Subs: F McGlynn for Kavanagh, A Hanlon for Mac Niallais, Mac Niallais for McLaughlin.
Ref -- J McQuillan (Cavan)