On Wednesday afternoon, mummers emerged from Tyrone that Mickey Harte had a request for a one-year extension as manager refused. Niall Gartland of the Ulster Herald and Gaelic Life broke the story. Harte signed a three-year contract with Tyrone in 2017 that will expire in 2020. If he is to remain at the helm, he may have to interview among other candidates.
Harte first took charge of the Tyrone team in 2003. That season he steered them to their maiden All-Ireland win.
Since then, he has led his teams to six Ulster Senior Championship titles and three All-Irelands. This followed a successful tenure with Tyrone underage teams.
If Harte should leave his role as manager for 2021, it will be interesting to see how Tyrone choose to move forward. Will they promote from inside as they did in 2003 or will they look outside their current set-up for a fresh input?
Along with the senior position, the U20 and minor management positions are also scheduled for a reshuffle. Hence, the timing could be right to move an underage manger up.
Here are five possible candidates for the next Tyrone manager.
1. Peter Canavan.
The Tyrone legend won two All-Ireland’s under Mickey Harte and is the first name many people will suggest to be his successor.
Canavan has managed before. Firstly, he had two years as the head man in Fermanagh. Secondly, he brought Cavan Gaels to a club Championship that seen as a huge success. Then, he was a part of Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher’s backroom team that brought Tyrone U21s to All-Ireland glory in 2015.
However, Canavan is currently enjoying success as a pundit with Sky Sports. Furthermore, he has openly said he won’t take on the Tyrone senior job while he has family on the team: “If Mickey opts out, I’ll not be involved in managing a team where I’ve a son and a son-in-law involved.”. Hence, fans shouldn’t hold their breath on this one.
2. Paul Devlin.
The current Tyrone U20 manager. Like Mickey Harte, Devlin is under a contract that ends in 2020.
After a slow start to his term as manager, Devlin’s team came good. Back-to-back Ulster Championships in 2019 and 2020 was as far as his teams got. Recently, they lost a tight semi-final to Dublin.
A youthful injection is perhaps something Tyrone need. Devlin has worked with many of the younger players on the squad so he knows them well. An internal promotion worked before so the Tyrone hierarchy may decide to stick to the trend.
3. Feargal Logan (and Brian Dooher).
The U21 winning manager in 2015. Among Logan’s team were Kieran McGeary, Lee Brennan, Mark Bradley, Conor Meyler, Cathal McShane, Rory Brennan, Padraig Hampsey, Michael Cassidy and Frank Burns, all who are senior squad players now. After so long under one manager, it may be a smooth transition if a familiar face comes into the dressing room.
4. Sean Cavanagh.
Cavanagh was an excellent servant to Mickey Harte during his inter-county career. Since retiring in 2017 he has enjoyed success at club level. The ‘youthful’ option, Cavanagh knows Harte’s ways and has been closer to the action recently than some other contenders. So, his insight would highly valued.
But, it’s maybe too soon for Cavanagh to take this job and he could opt to cut his teeth as part of a backroom team first.
5. Gavin McGilly.
Firstly, McGilly was a part of the management team that saw St. Mary’s win a famous Sigerson Cup in 2017 by beating a loaded UCD team. Then, he took Sean Cavanagh’s club Moy to Intermediate All-Ireland glory in 2018.
Now, he has the head job at St. Mary’s and is a part of Paddy Tally’s backroom team at Down. He has no shortage of management experience but would be an outsider to succeed Harte.
The latest I hear is that the position of Tyrone manager is now effectively open https://t.co/yzaLiDHjcF
— Niall Gartland (@Niall_Gartland) November 11, 2020