Throwing his body, Harte and soul into it
Patrick Harte Profile
BACK in the early months of the year, as is ever the case, talk throughout the county revolved around the state and shape of the Mayo team and what players were looking good to help the county’s quest for that elusive All-Ireland triumph. League form was examined, past performances, good and bad, were recalled, as every supporter offered an opinion on who should be starting for the green and red when the key was turned in the ignition of the championship bandwagon.
How many barstool selectors reckoned that Ballina’s Patrick Harte would turn out to be one of the main driving forces behind the team thus far, and would fast become almost indispensable to the fortunes of Mayo? But then Harte has made a habit of defying those who doubt him.
In 2000 he captained a brilliant Ballina minor team to the county minor title, but he himself was never involved with the county squad that year. The omission riled him and he made that clear in his acceptance speech, taking a swipe at the then minor management. He proved his worth by working his way onto the Under-21 team the following year which was eventually defeated in the All-Ireland final by Tyrone.
At the start of this current year Harte wasn’t regularly involved in the League as it coincided with him being in Edinburgh for exams in engineering. However, his level of commitment and his terrific attitude ensured that he played his way into the starting 15 by the time Mayo ran out against London in the opening round of the Connacht championship back in May.
The commitement is typical of the man, according to his former underage manager for Ballina Stephenites, Barry Murphy. “Pat is extremely hardworking and always has been. He was forever calling up to my house to collect footballs so he could go up to the pitch to practise his free taking and his shooting. He trained on his own an awful lot, always doing that bit extra.” Club-mate Paul McGarry agrees with that assessment. “Pat is very serious about his training. If the team is training Tuesday and Thursday, then he will be in the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
Murphy reveals that the talent was always visible from early on. “He had massive potential at minor level. He was always a great footballer, but he seems to have matured a lot more in recent times as well. He’s very level-headed now.”
McGarry believes that he came into his own when he was called in to replace David Brady on the Ballina team during the 2003 league and championship campaign. “David went to Austraila for a year and Pat took his place in midfield, and he improved so much despite the extra responsibility. He has continually improved since then.”
Both McGarry and Murphy point out that Harte, who is the holder of two Sigerson Cup medals from his time with Sligo IT, has strengthened himself up considerably in recent times. “His upper body strength has improved so much in the last few years. He really is much stronger now and it has improved his overall game,” says Murphy, and McGarry concurs. “Pat has bulked up and filled himself out. He is a formidable player now.” FORMER Mayo and Donegal star Martin Carney has been very impressed by what he has seen of Harte this year and actually thinks that he may have been helped to his current position by his exclusion at under-age level. “ I think he might not be as overburdened by expectation as other players have been. A lot of players come through the grades playing great stuff and then the pressure gets too much for them. Harte hasn’t been exposed too early, and because he has served his apprenticeship he is now thriving. ”