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Friend in high place could harm carthy

The long-time friendship between RTE Radio's Gaelic games correspondent Brian Carthy and the Tyrone senior football manager Mickey Harte forged an even stronger bond when Carthy was invited to the wedding of Harte's late daughter, Michaela.

The wedding between Michaela Harte and John McAreavey took place on December 30, 2010, at St Malachy's Church, Ballymacilroy in Tyrone -- Harte would later confide in Carthy that it was the "happiest day" of her life.

"It was a huge honour and a privilege to be invited to share in Michaela's and John's special wedding day surrounded by their families and friends," Carthy would write later. "Michaela was so full of joy. She could not stop smiling all day."

It is not at all surprising that Harte and Carthy share such a close friendship as both men share the common interests of the GAA and a commitment to deeply held religious beliefs. Neither man drinks.

The popular annual edition of Carthy's championship statistical review would often witness the three-time All-Ireland-winning manager at the launch.

When Michaela was murdered on honeymoon in Mauritius just 11 days after her wedding, an event that plunged not only the tightly knit GAA community into mourning but also deeply touched a nation, Carthy was one of the first people contacted by a stunned Harte.

"My wife Trish and I were collecting our daughter Sarah Marie from school when Mickey called to tell me the awful news," recalled Carthy, who also has a son, John Brian, a promising Dublin minor footballer.

"Sarah Marie and her older brother, John Brian, were both very fond of Michaela. I found it impossible to comprehend that Michaela had died while on her honeymoon in Mauritius. Mickey was shocked to the core.

"He was heartbroken and utterly devastated. I visited the Harte family home later that evening to offer my condolences.

"I felt helpless. Many of the wonderful people I had met at Michaela's and John's wedding were there with tears in their eyes sympathising with the family and lending support in every way possible. No one could come to terms with the tragedy."

Harte has not denied that his friendship with Carthy has been an issue in instigating the initial inquiry to RTE, a gentle probe that has now developed into a full-scale shemozzle.

"Brian Carthy is friends with many people and he has built that up over time because of the kind of man that he is," according to Harte.

A native of Ballymore, a townland at the foothills of Slieve Bán (which is the name of his publishing company) near Strokestown in county Roscommon, aside from Carthy's main detail as radio GAA correspondent, he has also written the very successful series of 'Championship' books, detailing each GAA championship season since 1995.

He also wrote 'Football Captains: The All-Ireland Winners', in which he interviewed every football All-Ireland-winning captain from 1940 to 1993 and the 'A-Z of Country and Irish Stars'.

After such a weighty and lengthy service to the GAA, Carthy would have expected to have assumed the mantle of chief commentator upon the retirement of the legendary Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh before last year's All-Ireland football final between Cork and Down.

However, after already enduring a minor legal spat with his employers earlier that summer, it was clear that RTE Sport bosses were intent on shaking up their radio delivery of GAA.

The perceived demotion of Carthy, confirmed when RTE unveiled their 2011 championship coverage in early May, prompted Harte to go public in his attempt to bat for his close friend. Carthy, who is contractually obliged to stay silent on the subject despite his friend's all-too-public assault on the airwaves and in print, must be touched by this extraordinary show of public solidarity.

But in journalism, where impartiality remains one of the primary aims of the profession, Harte may have unwittingly caused more harm to his friend's career than good.

Irish Independent