Sporting figures rally to Mickey Harte on death of his ‘little jewel’

LEADING GAA figures in the North led tributes to Michaela Harte last night and almost every statement made special reference to the young woman’s love for her family and for the Tyrone team.

Tyrone players Philip Jordan and Sean Cavanagh wrote moving personal tributes to the young woman and also tried to offer words of support to their coach Mickey Harte and to her family.

“It’s desperate. We’re all in a state of shock. Michaela was Tyrone’s biggest supporter,” said Philip Jordan. “She never missed one training session. We as a team grew up with her and she grew up with us. She had such a role to play in convincing Mickey to keep going after 1997 when Paul McGirr died. If it wasn’t for her, Mickey might never have gone to become manager and what followed (three All-Ireland titles) might never have happened.”

Sean Cavanagh said he knew Michaela from his school days, into university and all the way through the ranks with Tyrone.

“She was what every father would want in a daughter — respectful, courteous and generous,” he said. “The world is a worse place without her, that’s for sure. We’ve had our fair share of tragedy in Tyrone and Mickey’s had it in his own family losing his father recently.”

Adrian Logan, a close friend of the family and former sports presenter in the North, said her father “adored her“.

“He was totally devoted. He just thought the world of her. He told me: ‘She’s my little jewel’,” he said. “He refused to do any post-match interviews after those games until she stood beside him. That’s how much she meant to him. She was his number one fan.”

Cormac McAnallen’s mother, Bridget, said: “I really feel heartfelt sympathy for the family. I can imagine how they must feel. The circumstances are different, but they are also very similar in that you have the death of a young, healthy son or daughter, who you would never have expected to pass away.

“Mickey Harte and his family have been a great support to us. He did so much to support us after Cormac’s death.”

The Tyrone GAA County Board said it was difficult to comprehend the devastation that her new husband John and the Harte family must be feeling at this time.

The chairman of the Ulster Board Aogan Ó Fearghail said GAA in the Nnorth would “miss a talented, gifted and beautiful young woman”.

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