McConville 'shocked' by Harte's Derry exit

Oisin McConville admits he was "shocked" by Mickey Harte's decision to step down as Derry manager.

Derry GAA confirmed Harte's departure on Monday, eight days after the county's exit from the All-Ireland quarter-finals at the hands of Kerry.

Following that game, former Armagh star McConville said he believed Harte would remain with the Oak Leafers for the 2025 season at least.

"I'm shocked because you asked me the question last week and I said he'd definitely be there for another season," 2002 All-Ireland winner McConville said on The GAA Social.

McConville added: "I didn't see it coming.

"Having gone to those lengths to appoint him, unless there's massive pressure from the players or from the inside, but I didn't see this happening at all."

Speaking on a bonus episode of The GAA Social, recorded immediately after news of Harte's departure broke, presenter Thomas Niblock mentioned talk of a possible return for Rory Gallagher.

Gallagher, who took over as Derry boss in 2019 and led the county to the 2022 Ulster Football title, had a temporary ban lifted by the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) earlier this year.

Gallagher was "temporarily debarred" from the GAA in September.

He was debarred after Ulster GAA asked an independent panel to investigate claims of abuse made by Gallagher's estranged wife Nicola Gallagher.

Gallagher, who stepped back as Derry boss in May 2023, subsequently challenged his ban and the DRA, an independent arbitration body, found in his favour following a hearing on 1 February, an outcome which meant he was free to resume his coaching career.

McConville, though, said Malachy O'Rourke should be considered. O'Rourke, who led Derry club Glen to an All-Ireland title earlier this year, turned down the chance to manage the county before Harte was appointed.

Damian McErlain's name was also mentioned. McErlain, who preceded Gallagher as Derry senior manager, led the county to a second successive All-Ireland Minor title on Sunday.

Mayo forward Aidan O'Shea, whose in-depth interview with The GAA Social will be released on Tuesday night, admitted he was also a "bit surprised" that Harte had left because "he is a defiant enough man".

O'Shea and Mayo's season was ended by Harte's Derry in what proved to be the 72-year-old's penultimate match in charge, a penalty shootout win over the Connacht side in the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-finals.

O'Shea also said he could see former Monaghan boss O'Rourke being appointed.

"Everyone speaks very highly of Malachy," said O'Shea.

"The Monaghan boys always spoke very highly about him. The fact there is a strong Glen contingent there [in the Derry panel] and they've done the job in January, you'd have to fancy him to take over."