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Mickey Harte not happy with referee's use of advantage rule

By Declan Bogue

This was a gripping winter spectacular, unfolding as one of the most open games you can catch at this time of year.

A game when you would forgive the Football Review Committee – the architects of the new rules designed to curb cynical play - from looking on smugly at the success of the measures.

Both teams were inflicted with their first black cards of the season in the closing moments – reducing both as they had used up their quote of six substitutes.

But something that left an even greater impression on things was the ability of Donegal whistler Sean McLaughlin to constantly allow the attacking player leeway with the advantage law.

"This is the first time I have seen this advantage rule being applied and this is our fourth game in the competition. You would have to say that it was over-applied," said Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.

"People were nearly afraid to tackle in that game today. Some of the tackles seemed reasonable then they were pulled up for the advantage rule. It was a bit surprising and took the players a while to adjust to that. That maybe led the prolific amount of goal-scoring chances."

The majority of those fell to Derry, after Tyrone had opened with a blistering first 15 minutes.

"We looked to be coasting but Derry had other ideas. They pulled themselves back into the game and probably dominated the exchanges. Across the whole 70 minutes they probably had more scoring opportunities than we had, they just weren't too good in front of the goals."

While Derry were wasteful, Tyrone were clinical, hitting only five wides all day.

As Harte rightly claims, it is hard to score when you are chasing a game, but Derry manager Brian McIver knew exactly what he wanted to get out of yesterday's game.

"In terms of the lads that we wanted to see tested, we certainly did see tested today and that was all that we wanted.

"I thought we created six goal chances and took one. Tyrone I think created three goal chances and took two. So that was the difference at the end of the day."

There was a suspicion that defeat would not have hurt Derry particularly and that they will come to terms with it pretty quickly, a thought confirmed when McIver continued: "Whatever happened today, we were going to be trying a lot of the lads we wanted to see.

"On the other hand, we wanted to see some lads get a bit of football, so the McKenna Cup, at the end of the day, is the McKenna Cup, you try to balance your panel.

"Surely, it would have been great to come to Omagh here today and get a result, but the other side of it, we had a look at everybody and we had to try and get the side right for February. Believe me, if we get two points in February, I'd settle for it."

Derry had used up their sixth sub by the 61st minute, Tyrone sending on theirs two minutes later, and both were left with only 14 men on the pitch when Patsy Bradley on 67 minutes, and Mattie Donnelly on 70 minutes, were awarded black cards.

"That's the problem," acknowledged McIver of being left short for the closing stages of the game.

"We probably have learned that you have to hold a man in reserve in case that does happen in the last couple of minutes in a game. On the other side of it we were chasing the game and felt we had to make the changes."

Harte was holding onto his suspicions though, saying, "There is always doubt in these things. What is a black card and what is not? We haven't seen enough of them yet. But there was no major issue today. He was fair enough."

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