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29th Nov 2023

Sean Cavanagh opens up on working with Mickey Harte after ‘book’ fallout

Lee Costello

Sean Cavanagh

“You can’t live in Rome and fight with the pope.”

Tyrone legend Sean Cavanagh has opened up on his relationship with his former manager Mickey Harte, during the period when the two fell out over the contents of his book.

Back in 2009, Cavanagh, who was the reigning Player of the Year at the time, told Harte that he was too sick to start the game against Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final that season.

The then Tyrone manager said in his autobiography about the incident, that the ‘walls seemed to be caving in’ on Cavanagh, something which the midfielder took offence to, as it implied that he couldn’t handle the pressure.

The Moy native aired his grievances with his boss, and although the two went on to enjoy more successful times together, it was something that never completely went away.

Sean Cavanagh opens up on working with Mickey Harte after ‘book’ fallout

Speaking on the latest episode of the GAA Hour podcast thanks to AIB, proud partner of the GOAL Mile, Cavanagh opens up on what it was like working with Harte during that time.

“I think myself and Mickey in some senses are quite similar. I wouldn’t say that I ever found it difficult, and I wouldn’t say he found it difficult either, even though both of us knew that I did take offence to the comments in the book.

“I had felt a little hard done by, but in fairness he apologised over it, he said the ghost writer put something in that he shouldn’t have, but at the time I didn’t totally agree with it, I said ‘well, I don’t really believe what you’re saying to me, but I’ll park it.’

“Both of us learned to park that personal piece for the betterment of Tyrone. I take a lot flack, and with the likes of doing The Sunday Game I suppose it comes with it, but it genuinely never annoys me too much.

“I was in the spotlight for such a long time with my county career, so I kind of learned to deal with that, and I think Mickey is the same. I think he has a very thick skin, and he will have to, because he’s in Derry now, but at the same time, both of us knew that for the betterment of Tyrone football we had to park it.”

Sean Cavanagh has no doubt what Mickey Harte will do with Derry in 2024.

The fact that Harte went on to make Cavanagh captain of the team is evidence enough to show that they had both successfully managed to put it to one side, and even with the book incident, the three-time All-Ireland winner has nothing but great respect and admiration for his old manager.

“I’m a very ambitious person by nature, and because of that, I always wanted to captain Tyrone, and I always wanted to win an All-Ireland as captain, it didn’t happen, but that was always in my sight.

“I kind of knew as well that you can’t live in Rome and fight with the pope, and Mickey knew that as well, he needed me, and I needed him, so it was for the betterment of Tyrone football.

“To be honest we would have had a good relationship during those years, it was just one of those things put on the back burner, and I think mea nd him are both similar in mindsets, and you jus have to get one with things in life.

“Things happen, there are moments when you fall out with people, or people don’t agree with what you’re saying, but at the same time the common goal always was that we believe Tyrone can win an Al-Ireland.

“Every year that I took a Tyrone jersey, I totally believed that the goal and the expectation was that we were going to win an All-Ireland, and that’s what Mickey does, he’s almost hypnotic, and can brainwash people.

“Every Derry player, I have no doubt, will right now be thinking that they are going to win an All-Ireland in 2024, and although I’m not totally delighted by that fact, at the same time, they will believe that, Mickey just has that sort of thing with him.”

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