A Major row has erupted between Liam O'Neill and Mickey Harte after the GAA president accused the Tyrone manager of “consistent negativity”.
In the wake of the president's criticism yesterday, Harte hit back with a stinging rebuke — claiming that O'Neill should look at himself in the mirror.
O'Neill made his initial claim on Ocean FM in response to a question about Harte's post-match remarks about refereeing inconsistency and, particularly, the failure of David Coldrick to show Down's Conor McGinn a black card in last Sunday's drawn Ulster SFC tie.
“In fairness to Mickey Harte, he doesn't leave much negativity out,” said O'Neill yesterday. “If there's something negative to be said, Mickey will say it and he's consistent on that.”
Harte attended a press event at Kilcullen GAA, Co Kildare, last night and he defended his right to comment on issues within the game.
“I can't be responsible for how Liam sees life,” declared Harte. “I just look through my own lens and that's not the way I look at it. But if that's the way he chooses to describe it, that's up to him. Perhaps a view in the mirror might sort that out.
“The consistent application of all the rules is always an issue because there are so many variables within games. That is the key thing that needs to be attended to in refereeing, regardless of what set of rules you play by. If they're played by consistently, we can live with that. And we've always said that.
The Tyrone manager added: “It's not about taking a swing at referees or anything else. But you must be able to comment on things that you see in front of your face.
“And if something is clearly adjudicated differently than it ought to be, surely we have the right to comment on that?”
Harte, who was attending an event to mark the sponsorship of Kilcullen GAA by Nolan Butchers, continued: “Whenever you talk about consistency and you talk about refereeing decisions, if you comment on them, it seems to be that you're picking holes in it.
“That is not necessarily the case at all. If you put a logical argument with what you're thinking, I don't think that should be seen as being negative.
“Surely to God, referees and the refereeing fraternity are big enough to accept when they make mistakes and accept as well that they have a lot of things to think about? Maybe reducing the number of things they have to think about and attend to would be a good idea rather than add to it.
“You can say all you want about it and be as negative as you want about it, but I've never brought it up in a negative atmosphere.
“I've brought it up as facts that I've seen before me and it's not just for me that I'm mentioning these things.
“I just want us to try and reach a place where there's as consistent an application of the rules as is humanly possible. And that's not looking for perfection. But we should expect an effort to move in that direction.”
One of the most prominent players in the drama that played out over two games between Tyrone and Down in 2008, Ryan McMenamin, has warned that a Down win over Tyrone in tomorrow night’s replay in Newry could not be considered as an ambush on a par with the result six years ago.
Back then in Ross Carr and DJ Kane's first year in charge of the Mournemen they spent their league campaign in the third tier.
Little was expected of them when they travelled to Healy Park, but they delivered a blistering performance to take Tyrone back to Newry and an extra-time 1-19 to 0-21 win that witnessed glorious scenes at the final whistle.
“You can't say it would be an ambush after the way Down played last Sunday,” said the 2005 All-Star and three-time All-Ireland winner.
“You can't describe it as that because they have been forewarned and, if anything, Tyrone should have been beaten on Sunday.
“Down are hungry, they haven't won a title now in 20 years and Tyrone have gone a few years since they won it.
“For this crop of players, there has been a lot said, that they have had their opportunities and anyone you chat to in Tyrone feels as if it is time to step up and deliver upon the potential,” he said.
“It's up to them to do that if they want to go on to make a name for themselves.
“Everyone on that team is going to have to raise their game by 20 per cent.”
Lisnaskea Emmetts are preparing to host a star-studded Sevens tournament in memory of their late captain Brian Óg Maguire tomorrow.
Teams from St Gall's, St Mary's Belfast and a Fermanagh select will be just some of the sides in action.
The under-14 competition is due to start at 10am, with the senior competition beginning at 2.30pm.