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Tyrone boss Harte set to take on top brassover disciplinary controversy

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is in the United States on a fund-raising mission with Club Tyrone officers Hugh McAleer and Mark Conway this weekend but on his return the All Ireland winning boss plans to further highlight what he feels are serious discrepancies in the GAA’s disciplinary process.

Already Harte finds himself at loggerheads with Carrickmore’s Seamus Woods, the chairman of the powerful Croke Park Central Competitions Control Committee, following what he feels was a less than satisfactory televised discussion on aspects of the disciplinary process.

It was four-week ban imposed on Joe McMahon and the subsequent rejection of the player’s appeal against this that has really stoked Harte’s fire.

McMahon incurred a red card in the closing minute of Tyrone’s last National League match when Mayo player Peadar Gardiner ran at him and then crumpled in a heap on the ground even though minimal, if any, contact appeared to have been made.

In what has been a turbulent year to date on the disciplinary front for Tyrone, the McMahon incident perhaps more than any other has persuaded Harte to query the efficiency and fairness of the current procedures particularly in relation to the use of video and television footage to punish players.

The GAA authorities, clearly discommoded by Harte’s anger and seething sense of injustice, may now adopt a more judicious stance in employing match-day film prior to making disciplinary decisions.

Given that such decisions are invariably retrospective, they can by their very nature prove contentious.

And there are palpable concerns that when the intensity of the National Football League in particular is stepped up considerably next month the issue of discipline could be thrust even more forcefully into the public domain.

Harte’s call for a more uniform approach in the administration of disciplinary procedures and for greater transparency in relation to the workings of both the Central Competitions Control Committee and the Central Hearings Committee in particular appears to be winning support in many quarters. Nor is he the only high-profile team boss who harbours a deep sense of grievance.

Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney feels his team was heavily penalised following the fractious O’Byrne Cup tie against Laois while Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney was incensed when Paul Finlay was harshly red-carded in the NFL game against Galway earlier this month.

And Kerry supremo Jack O’Connor was stunned when he learned Paul Galvin had been suspended for eight weeks after an incident with Eoin Cadogan in the game against Cork two weeks ago.

Television pictures suggested Galvin was not the aggressor in that particular situation and there is a feeling in Kerry that Galvin’s colourful reputation had proceeded him in a disciplinary context.

Harte is at pains to stress that he does not see recent punitive action against some of his players as being anti-Tyrone. Instead he insists: “I firmly believe that the manner in which incidents in some games are dealt with and similar-style incidents in other matches are ignored is blatantly unfair.”

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