Tyrone ready to contest likely Gormley ban
First it was Martin Penrose, now it's Conor Gormley.
And suddenly the possible absence of two of his most experienced players throws considerable extra pressure on to Tyrone boss Mickey Harte as he prepares for Sunday week's All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo.
With Penrose having picked up a red card just after half-time in the quarter-final defeat of Monaghan, there were fears that Gormley too might receive a similar punishment, albeit retrospectively, when the Central Competitions Control Committee decided to investigate his part in an interval affray involving Monaghan defender Dessie Mone.
And last night those fears appeared to have been translated into reality when Gormley is thought to have been handed a one-match ban although it seems certain that the Red Hands will seek a hearing on this.
It is understood that neither referee Cormac Reilly nor his officials saw the incident and that opened up the prospect of laying a charge against Gormley, which Tyrone were notified of yesterday.
Gormley appeared to catch Mone with his hand but the offence went undetected in real time.
The likely loss of Gormley, an ever-present in the rearguard this season, will be a huge blow to Tyrone compounded as it is by the injury doubts surrounding Joe McMahon.
Triple All-Ireland winner Gormley has played in every defensive position except goalkeeper and, along with Sean Cavanagh and Peter Harte, has been among Tyrone's most consistent players, bringing his experience to bear in recent matches in particular.
Tyrone closed out all of their last four games by two-point margins with Gormley's authority at the back manifesting itself as those ties reached a climax.
The absence of Penrose from the attack robs Tyrone of one of their most industrious forwards, a player whom manager Harte regards as one of the best tacklers in his side – someone adept at winning second-phase possession as well as being a proven finisher and clinical free-taker.
Harte, who is expected to confirm his line-up tomorrow night, may bring either Aidan McRory or Ryan McKenna into his defence with Ronan O'Neill, who only recently regained full fitness following a lengthy spell on the sidelines, a strong candidate to take over from Penrose.
Late last night Tyrone PRO Eunan Lindsay confirmed that no formal confirmation had been received by county officials of punitive action against Gormley but indications are he will suffer the same censure as Penrose.
However, Tyrone are likely to move quickly to seek a hearing in a bid to have the card rescinded and it's certain that the management team of Harte, Tony Donnelly, Fergal McCann and Gavin Devlin will be less than impressed with this most recent turn of events – and at such a critical stage of the season, too.
Meanwhile, Cavan goalkeeper Alan O'Mara has completed a transfer to Dublin club side St Oliver Plunketts.
An employee of Croke Park's communications department, the Dublin-based netminder threw his lot in with the Navan Road side earlier this week.