Mickey Harte says Derry deserve more than criticism from ‘empty vessels’

Derry senior football manager Mickey Harte. Photo: George SweeneyDerry senior football manager Mickey Harte. Photo: George Sweeney
Derry senior football manager Mickey Harte. Photo: George Sweeney
Mickey Harte says his players deserve better than the deluge of criticism which has been directed at Derry during the championship season, citing what he labelled "empty vessels" for much of the outside noise.

The Oak Leafers put in an improved display in Saturday's final Group 1 encounter against Westmeath as goals from Conor McCluskey and Emmett Bradley secured a deserved four point win that means Derry qualify for the preliminary quarter-finals in third behind group winners, Armagh, and Galway who finished second.

Saturday’s result is unlikely to satisfy all Derry's critics but after the 2-07 to 0-09 victory which was a real show of character from his players, Harte said vitriol was now part of modern society.

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"I don’t like that it has happened to the players, they don’t deserve it," explained the Derry manager, "They’re better than that. They’ve worked their socks off the whole year and played some wonderful football, and I don’t like that that’s happening to them.

"For my part, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t think it’s a nice thing to be at but it doesn’t bother me, and those who are directing at me, I just tell them they shouldn’t get any joy out of it because I’m not worried about it.

"They (the players) were being pilloried about the lack of this and the lack of that, and there’s only one way to get out of that and it’s to dig in and get a result," he added, "I know the narrative’s out there that one result isn’t enough either so we know that the same questions will be asked next week."

The fervour around Harte and his Derry squad reached a peak last week on social media with unfounded rumours over Harte's position as county manager. The Derry boss described the furore as "just another Tuesday" and blamed “empty vessels” for much of the speculation.

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"No, but sure it’s to do with the times we’re living in," he replied when asked if he had ever experienced a similar scenario before, "There’s so many people that can have a voice and bring it out as if it was the gospel truth. You know what they say about empty vessels, they make the most noise, and that’s probably part of it.

"We (players and management) just say we’re aware of it but we know that collectively it might motivate them a bit to say, well, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing . When we get results, we’ll know who the real supporters are and we’ll know who’s firing the arrows."

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Derry now await the outcome of Monday morning's draw as they continue to rebuild their championship challenge but proving critics wrong is not a motivating factor for Harte ahead of next weekend's preliminary quarter-final.

"It all depends what you want to be your motivation. I don’t really believe in negative motivation. The biggest motivation we had here (at Pairc Esler) was for the true supporters of Derry who come out through thick and thin, who enjoy watching their team and take the hits of losses with the victories, and there’s plenty of them for that.

"That’s who they were playing for, that’s who motivates them to do what they did there tonight."

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