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Border patrol: Harte transplant not first GAA move to raise eyebrows

Sports fans are not always imperturbable; things get them going, get them riled.

It makes success, when it does comes along, that bit sweeter. Getting one over the neighbours only adds to the delight. Grudge matches, they are a plenty.

In the GAA world, so acutely defined by county and parish boundaries, that notion of 'them and us' only heightens the motivation for teams to stick it to 'that crowd'.

If anyone then hopped over the border to give 'that crowd' a helping hand, well that wouldn't go down well.

On Monday evening, the news that Mickey Harte was leaving his position as Louth senior manager to take over as Derry boss was certainly a bolt out of the blue.

Okay, if confirmed tonight, Harte will be taking over from a Tyrone man - Ciarán Meenagh - who was interim manager after Rory Gallagher stepped down in the wake of domestic abuse allegations - but Harte represents the Tyrone that gets Derry folk animated.

For too long they watched on as the Red Hand dominated while their own fortunes were at a low ebb. Now, the Oak Leaf county are ruling the roost in Ulster and ran Kerry close in this year's All-Ireland semi-final. They are not far away from getting their hands on the big prize. Will a Tyrone man give them that extra push?

Next spring will see Mickey Harte pit his wits against Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan in the Allianz League. Weeks later, they could collide in the Ulster championship. The plot thickens. More folk through the turnstiles.

Current Mayo manager and former RTÉ pundit Kevin McStay described encountering the Tyrone-Derry rivalry as a pundit in the early noughties as a revelation.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport in 2019, he said: "Of all the rivalries that I've bumped into the the GAA... I don't want to insult anyone,