The rumors about Rafa Benitez leaving Anfield for Everton is a shocker.
Having a closing analogy would be imagining that Sir Alex Ferguson will be leaving Manchester for a position at Liverpool.
These whispers started spreading around 19:30 BST on Monday that Mickey Harte had resigned as Louth footballers’ manager, eyeing a position with Derry.
Many fans felt this is like a delayed April fool’s joke to stir reaction.
However, it is obvious that this is not a joke especially when Derry GAA’s county committee confirmed the appointment of 71-year-old Harte and his trusted aide, Gavin Devlin, the next evening.
This surprise did not die down easily!
Tyrone GAA’s Very Own Mickey Hart
How could Harte, synonymous with Tyrone GAA, even think of leading the historical rivals?
In the 2000s, there was an intense competition between Harte’s Tyrone and Joe Kernan’s Armagh, its Tyrone’s relationship with Derry, that was the ultimate in Ulster GAA rivalries.
Joe Brolly, the 1993 All-Ireland winner from the Oak Leaf County, did not delay to share his strong disapproval with the latest development on social media. He labelled it as the “worst thing for Derry since the plantation”.
Later on, while speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, he went as far as saying that he’ll have no choice but to boycott Derry’s senior games.
Voices from Tyrone also supported this sentiment. Owen Mulligan, a player under Harte’s championship-winning Tyrone team, even went on to say, “Might as well have joined Rangers.”
However, even in the midst of all these disapprovals, some practical considerations have been surfacing.
Just imagine the scene at Healy Park or Celtic Park when fans gather to watch Harte in the Derry setup against their rivals. It will no doubt be a huge affair.
Many fans will remember the personal tragedies Harte faced when he lost his daughter Michaela in 2011, but there will also be fans on Tyrone who will wonder how else to react to the man who once was their own.
Jim McGuinness Returns in Donegal
With the return of Jim McGuinness in Donegal, it feels like going back to the old times.
Harte’s motivation is still a subject of debate. Even though skeptics may have their reasons, it obvious that his competitive spirit that drove this choice.
Derry’s recent performance has been notable. Under Harte’s leadership, Louth rose through the ranks, nearly reaching Division One. And though they faced tough defeats, Harte’s positive attitude never wavered.
Yet, as of Monday evening, no one had even the faintest hint that Harte was eyeing the Derry position, with him seeming dedicated to Louth till 2025. All it took was a single tweet from Louth GAA to turn the GAA world upside down. The shock still lingers.