Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Angry Tyrone are up in arms - Harte shuns his media duty as assistant Donnelly questions referee's decisions

Frustration: Mickey Harte watches his side lose to reigning champions Monaghan
Frustration: Mickey Harte watches his side lose to reigning champions Monaghan
Going strong: Sean Cavanagh

When approached after the game to offer his thoughts by reporters, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte refused all requests, only pausing briefly from his walk from the dressing room to the team bus to shake hands with some of the hardcore Tyrone support.

Any journalist present in Clones felt that this was the first time Harte had refused to grant a post-match briefing, leading to the inevitable conclusion that – along with his remonstrations to referee Eddie Kinsella of Laois – that he felt his team were hard done by.

His assistant, Tony Donnelly, answered questions instead about what Tyrone felt could have been handled differently.

"Possibly we felt that there should have been more additional time than the two minutes allocated and there was a stoppage in additional time, the ball was thrown up, we were breaking away and he did not let the last play finish," the Augher man explained.

"The most frustrating thing was that he did not let that play finish when we could have broken forward and got the equaliser.

"That was the cause of all that frustration and exasperation at the final whistle."

It was brought to his attention that the first half free count appeared lopsided, Tyrone getting six frees to Monaghan's 14. He responded: "We thought that the likes of Darren (McCurry) couldn't get a free and you wonder about the balance of things at times whenever the opposition gets frees and you don't and you have to work harder.

"We have not got a complex about it but what we are saying is that we would like fair play."

Talking of McCurry, he was gone with the crucial last 13 minutes of the game to play, a victim of a black card that appeared disputable.

Donnelly certainly thought so too.

"I don't know what Darren McCurry's black card was for," he said. "I would have to see it again.

"That one in particular I can't work out the reason for it.

"The others, again it is distinguishing between what was a deliberate pull-down tackle and a clumsy tackle, the referee made the call.

"That's that. You have to live with it and get on with it."

He did make a point of extending congratulations to Monaghan however, stating: "In case I am accused of sour grapes or griping, I want to wish Monaghan all of the best in their defence of the Ulster title and possibly going forward in the All-Ireland series.

"As for ourselves, we have to go down a different route, we were totally focused on playing Monaghan and we had not looked at any other alternative.

"We are now going to be at home to Louth and it will be a tough one.

"Anyone that plays Tyrone tend to raise their game and it is everyone's last chance and they will throw everything at it.

"We have to lick our wounds and come out strong against Louth."

In the RTÉ studios analysing the match, Joe Brolly once again called Sean Cavanagh's character into question, insinuating that the 30-year-old was conning the referee into awarding frees.

Cavanagh reacted to the accusations before boarding the team bus, saying: "It doesn't worry me, it doesn't surprise me whatever is said in the media.

"I've been in the game too long to let things like that annoy me.

"I'll always come back stronger and I think this Tyrone team will come back stronger as well.

"We've got Louth in two weeks so we're focusing on that."

On Darren Hughes' black card, awarded for pulling Cavanagh down, he revealed: "I can't even remember, I didn't know he got a black card.

"I was more worried about saving the game.

"The referee made a few of the right calls.

"He booked me when I had committed about three or four fouls so fair enough."

This win has been 26 years in the making and there was a certain needle throughout, and after the final whistle.

Cavanagh knows how this game works.

"They have suffered a lot of pain from us over the years," he added.

"We didn't do ourselves justice.

"We were lethargic in the first half, we went to sleep for 10, 15 minutes of the second half.

"They missed a penalty in the first half so on the balance of the game, I'm not too sure about the stats, but they probably had the better goal chances and they nailed one of them, which was a big score in the game."

He finished: "Against Down we were slow out of the blocks as well and they got a run at us, and we left ourselves with too much to do this time to bring it back, but we have to regroup.

"We have used the qualifiers in the past and we'll have to use them again, but it's not ideal."

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