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Harte fans the flames with a blast at Ulster final rivals

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has lit the touch paper ahead of next weekend's Ulster final between his side and Donegal, questioning why their opponents send selector Marc 'Maxi' Curran onto the field so frequently.

Asked if he was concerned about what has occurred on the sideline during Donegal games this summer, Harte replied: "I would like to let you know how things have changed.

"In 2005, when we were playing Armagh in the All-Ireland semi-final, (former selector) Tony Donnelly came up and stood beside me on the line for about 15 or 18 minutes in the second-half, almost until the end.

"He got suspended for it, and wasn't allowed inside the wire for the All-Ireland final and the first game of the next season because he stood beside me for that period of time and that was not allowed. That's a far cry from what I see at the minute.

"There has been some change somewhere, maybe it will change back."

Pressed on whether he felt there was a measure of what Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath termed as 'gamesmanship' to the pitch incursions, Harte stated: "I fail to see the necessity to be on the pitch as much as some people do."

Harte also rubbished claims that Tyrone and Donegal have a poor relationship and that any animosity lies between them after accusations made following the stormy 2015 Minor Championship showdown.

"There are a lot of people speaking with wonderful authority about this vitriol that is supposed to exist between Tyrone and Donegal. They didn't show us any evidence, they went on rumour and the rumour mill," the Errigal Ciaran clubman said.

"They were prepared to talk about it as if it was the truth. That's all been investigated and dealt with and there was no evidence. I don't think any such vitriol exists between Tyrone and Donegal at all."

Meanwhile, Derry selector Tony Scullion has dismissed his former team-mate Joe Brolly's claim that the Derry county team stars do not play enough with their clubs.

As the Oak Leafs gear up for a home All-Ireland qualifier against Meath in Owenbeg today, the 1993 All-Ireland winner admits there were some nervous moments last weekend as county players took part in club matches.

In his general criticism of Kieran McGeeney at the end of May, Brolly noted: "We have the same problem in Derry and this is happening all over the country... They're not allowed to play club football and this is what we have to watch?"

However, when informed of Brolly's statement, Scullion replied: "That's complete nonsense. Out of 12 or 13 games in Derry, I think the lads have played in all but two or three of those games."

In facing Meath, the Ballinascreen man believes this is exactly the kind of test they need to ignite their season.

"If Derry were to get over this weekend, they would be in a very good place again. This is a very defining moment for Derry's year," he commented.

"I don't think we did ourselves justice against Tyrone in the first round of the Ulster Championship. We were well in the game after the first 20 minutes, we had come back from the first goal but the other goals before half-time really killed us.

"It is good to get back out against Louth, but this is a real tester. If we get over this, we will definitely be in a good place leading into the next game."

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