His twentieth Westmeath senior football championship campaign due to commence on Sunday evening, Garrycastle stalwart, Doron Harte, still retains the playing instensity and desire which has resulted in the experienced footballer garnering eight Flanagan Cup winners medals during a wholly successful playing career.
While the circumstances surrounding this year’s Westmeath SFC are vastly altered, the Flanagan Cup winning captain of 2019 boasts the same mentality which has served him so positively in prior club playing seasons, that desire to give of his on field best from a personal and team perspective.
With an eight week timeframe afforded to the senior football championship announced as part of the revised playing format, the current holders play town rivals, Athlone, in their opening fixture, a game to take place in Tubberclair on Sunday (throw-in, 5pm ).
“We are approaching this year’s senior football championship in a wholly new playing environment. Where once we thought no competitive football action would take place this calendar year, now there presents the opportunity to retain the Flanagan Cup and as a playing and management unit, we will give of our best to achieve our goal,” Doron remarked.
Adapting to the new playing protocol surrounds, Doron has noted that “flexibility” will be key as the championship progresses.
“Although panels will be limited to 24 players on matchday, the key is to have a large body of players upon which to call. With competitive action on a regular basis, injuries and suspensions may become prevalent and it is vital that there is sufficient depth within the squad to call upon players when they are required,” Doron continued.
While training programmes were adhered to during the period of lockdown, Doron noted that the unification of purpose which contact training affords is of immense benefit as preparation for championship fare continues.
“While the return to contact training as a playing squad was a surreal experience initially, as time passes you gradually gain confidence, focussing your mindset on the fixtures to come. Our management team has been wholly supportive of our needs during these unprecedented times and maintained that sense of camaraderie which, I fell, is a vital component for all successful teams,” Doron asserted.
Doron will start Sunday’s chamnpionship campaign in the absence of long time county and club colleague, Des Dolan, and stated that his influence will be much missed.
“Des has had a massive impact both on and off the field for Garrycastle through the years and his influential absence will be felt. In that regard, the onus will fall upon John Gaffey and I to steer the team in the right direction as we our championship campaign progresses,” Doron noted.
Now the “hunted” following their championship success in 2019, Doron is expecting stern challenges in Garrycastle’s quest to retain the Flanagan Cup.
“We are optimistic for what lies ahead, the challenges will be stern, but hopefully we will adapt to the revised championship format and give of our utmost to attain positive results in the contests ahead,” Doron concluded.