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Five Contenders In The Running To Replace Mickey Harte As Derry Manager

Five Contenders In The Running To Replace Mickey Harte As Derry Manager
Lee Costello
By Lee Costello Updated
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Mickey Harte has stepped down as Derry manager after just one year in charge, but the forever spinning wheel of the managerial cycle waits for no man, and the search for his replacement has already begun.

In the last 12 months Rory Gallagher, Ciaran Meenagh and Harte have all sat in the Derry hotseat, so whoever they appoint next, they will want it to be for the long-term.

Stability is an important factor when it comes to managing a successful team, and the Ulster side have went through a lot of changes in a very short period of time.

However, when it comes to leading a team with genuine All-Ireland ambitions, the pool of elite managers is quite small, so we have taken a look at the bookies, the rumour mill, and the facts presented in front us, to give you a list of five potential candidates.

1. Rory Gallagher


Gallagher left the job just days before the 2023 Ulster final after domestic abuse allegations pertaining to his private life.

The Ulster Council temporarily barred Gallagher "without prejudice" from coaching as the accusations were being investigated by a safeguarding panel.

That barring order was lifted by the Disputes Resolution Authority in February, allowing Gallagher to coach again.

Gallagher has emerged as the number one candidate on a lot of the bookies' shortlists to replace Harte.

The Fermanagh native lead them to their first Ulster title in almost two decades, and oversaw the evolution which saw the Oakleaf county join the top table of the GAA elite.

READ ALSO: Rory Gallagher 'Temporarily Debarred, Without Prejudice, From The GAA'

READ ALSO: Derry Manager Rory Gallagher Releases Statement Responding To Domestic Abuse Allegations

2. Malachy O'Rourke


The Watty Graham's Glen manager has lead the Derry side to back to back All-Ireland club finals, winning the most recent one, and is currently the number one coach in the club game.

When you consider the fact that so many of the Glen players are a part of the Derry set-up as well, it would make his introduction to the team much more seamless.


The Fermanagh native has previous success at inter-county level, winning two Ulster titles with Monaghan, and guiding them during their most successful period in recent history.

All of these reasons make him the perfect candidate for the role, but when you consider how perfect he has it in Maghera at the moment, then he might not want to leave his current position.

The club certainly would not want to lose the man who not only lead them to All-Ireland glory, but delivered their first ever county title senior title just three years ago and has since tripled that feat, so if Derry were to offer him the job, they would need to make it worth his while.

3. Damien McErlain


Just last weekend Damien McErlain guided Derry to their second All-Ireland minor title in consecutive years, so in some ways, he should be the natural replacement for Harte.

The problem is, McErlain had already tried his hand at the senior job, managing them for two years before deciding to step down and go back to the minor grade.

If he hadn't already held the position previously, he would certainly be higher on this list, but is a genuine contender for the role nonetheless.

4. Conleith Gilligan


The Ballinderry hero had a glittering career at both club and county level, representing Derry at all levels before stepping into the world of management.

The county board might be more tempted than ever to give the job to a Derry native considering the backlash they received after Harte's appointment, and Gilligan has already gathered some great experience and success in the world of coaching.

The former flying forward was Mickey Moran's assistant when Kilcoo won the club All-Ireland, and then took the job himself the following year, winning the county title and reaching an Ulster club final.

He is currently a part of Kieran McGeeney's backroom team with Armagh and is also in charge of Edendork, the Tyrone club that boasts stars like Niall Morgan, Darren McCurry and Conn Kilpatrick.

5. Paddy Tally


This is a bit of an outside choice, but there is some merit behind it. Tally was. apart of the coaching team that saw Tyrone win their first ever All-Ireland title and then he worked with Derry, so has some experience in the county.

Eventually he moved on to Down where he was a part of the management team that reached the 2010 All-Ireland final, before becoming manager of the county himself and guiding them to an Ulster final in 2017.

The university lecturer also managed St Mary's to two Sigerson titles, an incredible achievement when you consider the size of the college compared to most.

Now Tally works as part of Kerry's coaching team, playing a vital role in their All-Ireland success back in 2022, and would have picked up some valuable lessons working in The Kingdom under Jack O'Connor, so he might be primed nicely for this job.

SEE ALSO: "I don't know what happened" - O'Shea and McConville 'Shocked' By Harte Departure



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