Ulster Football Championship: Mickey Harte and Jim McGuinness renew provincial rivalry

Amid the myriad pundit pronouncements and championship previews, some southern analysts are convinced the losing team at Celtic Park will be in a better position in terms of mounting an All-Ireland challenge.

That may ultimately prove true with Saturday’s defeated side set for a month off prior to the Super 16s – as opposed to having lumps taken out of them in potentially two more Ulster SFC contests.

But while Armagh selector Ciaran McKeever memorably uttered at last year’s Ulster Championship launch that the “real football” will begin during the Super 16s, the idea that McGuinness and Harte will adopt a relaxed attitude about Saturday’s outcome seems fanciful.

While Harte didn’t appear unduly bothered when his team lost against Dublin at Celtic Park in round five of the Allianz Football League. With their Division One status already secure, that was very much an outlier. The ultra-competitive Ballygawley man has made a career out of wanting to win every game.

In addition to guiding Tyrone to three All-Ireland titles, six Ulster Championships, plus Division One and Division Two League successes, his Red Hands won 12 McKenna Cups during his 18 years in charge.

And while McGuinness may have been away from the inter-county scene for nearly a decade, his regard for the importance of the Ulster Championship, despite the numerous calls for the provincials to be binned, doesn’t appear to have diminished one iota.

2024-04-19 16:27:43
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