Why a Leinster title would be Mickey Harte's greatest achievement ever
Harte could mastermind the biggest upset in Gaelic football.
Mickey Harte is one game away from winning a Leinster title, and despite already having three All-Irelands in his back pocket, this would be his greatest achievement yet.
It sounds preposterous that a provincial title would trump managing your own county to their first ever All-Ireland, and then tripling that feat.
However, when you look at the state of Leinster football, and how Dublin have pummelled it into complete and utter submission, so much so that lifting the trophy every summer is barely even a formality, and more just an expected perk of being from the capital.
The Leinster title has been locked up in the Dublin trophy cabinet, and the keys have been thrown away, buried, and rusted beyond repair.
The Dubs aren't even concerned about where the keys might be, because they have no intention of letting the cup out of their grasp any time soon.
When Harte took over Tyrone in 2003, he was tasked with bringing home the Sam Maguire for the first time in the county's history.
The Errigal Ciaran native had won All-Irelands with Tyrone at minor and u21 level, and now his team were ready to take on the senior stage, with himself leading the charge.
Many in the Red Hand county never thought it would be possible, they had been burnt before, but a golden generation of talent was primed and ready to be unleashed.
Peter Canavan, Brian Dooher, Stephen O'Neill, Sean Cavanagh, Owen Mulligan - these are only a handful of the talented stars at Harte's disposal, and although Kerry were dominant at the time, looking back with hindsight, it isn't surprising that this team went on to do what they did.
Since then, that team disbanded, retired and moved on, so Harte rebuilt a new team that reclaimed the Ulster title, and brought the county back into the hunt for All-Irelands, reaching four semi-finals and one final in 2018.
Although it was his successors who got the new breed of Tyronians over the line in 2021, much of the panel's talent was a product of Harte's coaching and influence.
When he took the job in Louth, then a Division Four team, many seen it as a retirement plan. It didn't look to have much ambition, what was the goal really?
Getting up to Division Three was obviously priority number one, but then what? They were hardly going to win a Leinster championship with Dublin running rampant.
It took six years for the Boys in Blue to lose their grip on the Sam Maguire, and even then it was only by the finest of margins. What would it take to pry the provincial title away?
In a short time, Harte has done an incredible job with The Wee County, climbing out of Division Four and Three in consecutive seasons, and then just missing out on promotion Division One earlier this year.
Suddenly it looks like Louth have world beaters all over the pitch, and Sam Mulroy is leading the charge with all of the power, flair and determination of any of the country's biggest stars.
This Sunday they march down to Croke Park to do what no other team has done in over 13 years - beat Dublin in a Leinster final.
Unlike those who tried and failed previously, Louth will head to the GAA's national stadium with something that no other team in the province has had in years - a genuine belief that they will win.
Not fake confidence, not a 'anything can happen on the day' attitude - Harte will have instilled them with a bedrock of pure, unfiltered belief, that they can pull this off - and that's a dangerous weapon to possess.
Now, having the belief that you can do something and actually doing it are two separate things, and there's every chance that Dublin not only win this game comfortably like usual, but completely run away with it, without breaking a sweat.
But for the first time in a long time, the stage is set, the contenders are hungry, they're ready, and if you take a shot at the king, then you better not miss.
This could be Louth's one shot to make history, and if it were to happen, then there's one man to thank above everyone else.
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