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Tyrone could be hit by Donnelly suspension

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone's task in going to Killarney this weekend for a must-win game against Kerry could be made far more difficult with a possible suspension to Mattie Donnelly.

The contents of referee Conor Lane's match report could be vital. TG4 footage of the final whistle caught Donnelly and Mayo's Aidan O'Shea in a tangle. As Lane did not take any action at the time, he can be asked to review the footage and Donnelly could be landed with a suspension for his part in the flare-up.

Retrospective judgement will not be served on Tyrone debutant Harry Loughran, who caught Cillian O'Connor in the face towards the end, as the incident was dealt with.

Having been restored to midfield for the visit of Mayo, Donnelly gave Tyrone a better platform around the middle, but they still slumped to a second successive defeat after the previous week's miserable loss to Donegal in Ballybofey.

It remains to be seen what effect a third consecutive defeat may do to Tyrone given that their first engagement in the Ulster Championship is not for another eight weeks, when they meet Derry who presently are 70 minutes away from relegation to Division Three.

Should Tyrone beat Kerry, then a likely win for Dublin over Monaghan and a possible victory for Mayo at home to Donegal would propel the Red Hands to a League final.

"We'll be going down to Kerry with a fighting chance of making the League final, and that has to be our target now, and hopefully putting in a better performance, putting more scores on the board," said Peter Harte, who emphasised the benefits to making their first final since 2013.

"To get a run out in Croke Park, to get an extra competitive game, there's lots of benefits that come with it, because there is that big break before we play Derry," he said.

"But all we can do is concentrate on next week, on playing Kerry, which is a tough task. I don't think we have won down there in a while."

Harte himself was held scoreless against the Connacht side and believes they were the architects of their own downfall in shooting 15 wides and dropping three shots short to the Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke.

"It was probably the difference in the teams, I'm not too sure what the stats were, but when you're missing 15, it's very hard to win any game and (so) it proved," he said.

Another cause for concern is that they have mined just one solitary goal - from defender Aidan McCrory against Dublin - to date in their six League games, a dubious honour shared only with Fermanagh and Wicklow.

By way of contrast, Mayo's goal, when Tom Parsons ghosted in unmarked to the heart of the Tyrone defence and took an offload from Andy Moran before drilling to the bottom corner, proved the difference.

"One goal is probably not a big enough return in the League, and goals win matches. They really do, I know it's a cliché, but especially in this division, you saw today, the goal just gave them the impetus going in at half-time," said Harte.

"It gives you something to hold on to and to build on, and it ended up being the difference in the two sides," he added.

With only six points scored against Donegal the week before, Harte knows there are legitimate scoring concerns.

"Going into the summer, you'll probably need 16 points to win most Championship games, or in around that," he said.

"To only be shooting 12, it means that your defence has to work awfully hard to keep the other team below that.

"That's one thing we need to be working on. We are doing it, but it's not showing yet."

Belfast Telegraph

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