Friday 15 December 2017

Galway's Mr Versatile Harte still answering the Tribesmen's call

Galway's Aidan Harte. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Galway's Aidan Harte. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It's been quite the journey for Aidan Harte.

On Sunday, he'll be one of just four, along with Colm Callanan, Joe Canning and David Burke, on the Galway squad who were active the last time Galway contested a league final back in 2010.

All four of the survivors started that day. Callanan was in goal and Burke managed a point from midfield while, predictably, Joe Canning top-scored with 1-5 to help Galway to their most recent piece of national silverware.

Harte (28) also started that game but in those days he was operating in the full-forward line, rather than the full-back line where he'll be expected to line out this weekend.

"My first year (with Galway) was 2008, and the last time we won the league in 2010 I was actually up the other end of the field, at corner-forward. I'm looking to keep scores out this time," Harte says.

He scored three points in the win over Cork seven years ago but it's been a fairly organic transition rather than any forced switch. Gort deployed Harte at wing-back for a couple of seasons.

When they played Clare last year, he was the Tribes' designated sweeper. From there, the move to the full-back line wasn't much of a stretch.

"Maybe they just figured I wasn't good enough for the forwards. It was a natural transition, (in) 2013, 2014 I played wing-back with the club.

"And last year against Clare I played the sweeper, more because that's the way they played. I'm still in defence with the club. It's probably a bit more negative up there, trying to stop the man, but wherever you get a place on the team," said the Oaklands College, Edenderry teacher.

Galway have been on a bit of a journey of their own so far this year. Defeat to Wexford back in February meant their first target of an immediate return to the top flight was out of their hands.

From there, they regrouped and struck a blow when beating Waterford in the league quarter-final and followed that up by overpowering Limerick to set up Sunday's showdown with All-Ireland champions Tipp in the Gaelic Grounds.

"Promotion was eminently top of the pile. You want to be playing the best teams, week in, week out.

"That didn't happen for various reasons. What are you going to do? Down tools in February, or pick up and go again?

"We took it game by game, and delighted to be in final now at the moment, trying to cut the time between league and championship."

Tipp edged Galway by a point in last year's All-Ireland semi-final but Galway beat them at the same stage 12 months earlier.

Harte believes their recent record against them will give Galway confidence ahead of the weekend.

"The evidence is there. There has been nothing but a puck of a ball between us. They've had that Division 1A campaign, probably had more top-quality games than us coming into the final.

"So they'll be hot favourites in that sense."

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