'Mickey! Mickey! Mickey!'
At half-time in Tyrone's Allianz League match with Cavan one would have to imagine Mickey Harte was fuming. His team were four points down, having just conceded a goal that typified their first half performance. As the visitors played the ball around, waiting for the right moment to lay seige to the Tyrone blanket defence, Harte's assistant Gavin Devlan spotted Gearoid McKiernan making an off-the-ball run from 20 yards behind the play. 'Watch McKiernan, watch McKiernan!' he roared from the line but they did not. Cavan's talisman ghosted in and found himself on the end of a flick-on from Conor Madden and he in turn palmed the ball over goalkeeper Niall Morgan.
Tyrone had been off their best both in defence and attack - only mustering two points from play in the opening half - so it wouldn't take a genius to guess what the half-time team talk would be like.
As the made their way back out for the second half, the underage players who'd been out playing at the break came running off and rushed to get high-fives with Tiernan McCann and the rest of the Tyrone defence. Meanwhile, Mickey Harte had been in conversation with some of his backroom staff along the line before he heard the shouts of 'Mickey! Mickey!' from the stands. A group of kids had lined up along the fence and the Tyrone manager arrived over with a beaming smile and greeted them each with a handshake, not to mention a minute's chat.
In the heat of battle Harte was able to step out of the competitive bubble and take time to greet his supporters. It was only a small moment in yesterday's match but it was a lovely one. What's even more (for want of a better phrase) 'heartwarming' is that this is of course not an isolated incident within the GAA.
Speaking on the We Are Cavan podcast after Dublin's emphatic win in Breffni Park, Northern Sound commentator Mickey Brennan spoke of how he was taken aback by the way the Dublin players treated their young fans:
They stayed on the pitch for an hour, signing autographs and getting photos taken. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The last man in off the pitch was Stephen Cluxton and the second last man in was Michael Darragh MacAuley, and they went around absolutely everybody.
And the same can be said for nearly every county team in the country. The chances of a young kid meeting their soccer heroes - unless it's a League of Ireland player - are slim to none but the Allianz Leagues, and the various fan nights respective county boards organise, offer great opportunities for their youngest members to get a selfie (autographs are so 1990s) with their favourite players.
While there is plenty to bemoan within the sport sometimes it's good to take a step back and remember that there's more to the GAA than transition speeds and Champions League style format debates.