Less than a week after burying his daughter, Micheala, savagely killed on her honeymoon in Mauritius Mickey Harte was back in charge of the Tyrone football team in their first game of the new year.
Harte who has led the team to three All Ireland triumphs said his decision to come and manage the team against Donegal was “about taking a first step.” His team won.
“It was about getting back out there. Doing another first. There are a lot of firsts to get through. The players are special. The county board, our community, our neighbours. This was secondary, but it was about getting out to play our sport again. It wasn’t easy for their team, but I appreciate it, ” he told The Irish Times.
Several thousand showed up for the game, a far larger crowd than usual.
“All I can ask,” he said “is for players to give their best. That’s the only way we can remember the good times we had in the past, times that Michaela was part of. And she will be in the future.
“There’ll be better days. We’ll have days that will be more difficult than that again. I know I am with good company. We’ll give it our best shot. Life is different and it’s going to be different.”
“We are so impressed and grateful for the support from those outside the GAA community, too.
Michaela’s death has extended to people outside our community. Every organisation you can imagine in this province and country has been there for us.”
His opposite number on the Donegal sideline paid his respects. “We’re just happy that we contributed well,” said Donegal manager Jim McGuinness. “We wanted to come down and play the match and to contribute. That was the thing to do.”