Mickey Harte: No malice in the Brendan Rogers incident
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has challenged the comments of Derry counterpart Damian Barton following Brendan Rogers' facial injury sustained in the first minute of the Dr McKenna Cup final.
At the throw-in, Tyrone's Tiernan McCann collided heavily with Oak Leaf midfielder Rogers, with the impact requiring 14 stitches to Rogers' lip. A clip of the incident has been posted online and has provoked widespread debate about the intentions of the Tyrone player.
After Derry's win over Fermanagh last Sunday, Barton said: "I think Brendan was quite shocked. Some people were quite horrified. I'll leave it to other people to make up their minds.
"I think it affected the mood of all of us. It overshadowed what was a positive night for football.
"But for the gumshield, I think we'd be looking at much more horrific injuries. It shouldn't have happened."
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Harte defended Killyclogher clubman McCann. He said: "I'm disappointed in the way it has been coming out regularly since it happened.
"First of all, nobody wants to see any player getting injured and what happened to Brendan Rogers was horrific. The incident wasn't horrific. The incident was very much accidental."
The clip of the incident features the throw-in by referee Noel Mooney. The airborne ball is contested between Conor Clarke and Emmett Bradley and as McCann runs into the area, he is already turning when he meets a static Rogers.
No appeals were raised by the Derry players and Mooney was in close enough proximity to make a judgment. However, it has been highlighted on a number of sporting websites and received a significant amount of viewings.
Harte reveals that he has studied the clip in depth.
"I have watched it numerous times," he maintained. "I can understand how it happened because Tiernan was going forward. He reached in for a broken ball and that meant his shoulder turned forward. And at that time, he clashed with Brendan.
"We very much regret the injury he had. Nobody wants to see any player injured."
Harte also made the point that Cavan referee Mooney was standing beside the incident and chose not to take any action.
"I think that was the right thing to do," stated Harte.
"If Tiernan had any malicious intent, he would have been looking at the person.
"He has his eyes on the ball. He turns his body to reach for the ball and I believe he wanted to take the ball and swivel away from the contact altogether.
"But he reached in and didn't quite get the ball. They were just too close and they hit. That was very unfortunate for Rodgers. The outcome was horrific but the incident was not."
Incidents such as this, and the earlier group game in the Dr McKenna Cup when Emmet McGuckin accused a Tyrone player of deliberately trying to get him sent off, have upped the ante in the Tyrone-Derry relationship.
The two will meet in the National League in Omagh on March 5, before the Ulster Championship clash on May 22.
Asked if there is too much emotion entering the dynamic, Harte replied: "I don't think any emotional, highly-charged content has come from us."
Tyrone (v Galway): N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; R Brennan, Justin McMahon, T McCann; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; N Sludden, M Donnelly, C Meyler; D McCurry, C McAliskey, R O'Neill.