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Tiernan McCann will learn from mistake, insists Mickey Harte

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte says he can understand why Tiernan McCann has been heavily criticised following his play-acting in Saturday's All-Ireland quarter-final.

Time was almost up in the game when Monaghan's Darren Hughes ruffled McCann's hair and the Killyclogher man went down with an impressive theatrical tumble.

The incident led to widespread criticism of McCann's conduct, with The Sunday Game pundit Colm O'Rourke among others stating his behaviour was "embarrassing".

Harte admits McCann knows he "made a mistake" and feels the player would "wish to have responded differently".

"On behalf of Tiernan McCann, I'm saying if he had the chance again, he probably would have responded differently. We all accept that," said the Tyrone boss.

"But I don't think he's the first person to have ever over-reacted to anything and I don't think he will be the last.

"If the player who had raised his hand had chosen to do something different, then the outcome would have been different as well.

"I don't think you can throw all the blame at Tiernan McCann even though he himself said he would do something different if he had the chance to do it again.

"That's life. Young people make mistakes from time to time.

"Tiernan was the first man to say 'I should have responded differently'.

"He accepted that and we've accepted that.

"Tiernan McCann is a fine young man and a wonderful footballer. He did lots of very good things on Saturday in the game which seem to have been overlooked."

Joe McMahon is now a fitness doubt for the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry on August 23 after sustaining a groin injury early in Saturday's win.

But Harte appears as up for the challenge as ever, commenting: "We are relishing a chance to play in an All-Ireland semi-final.

"It happens to be against Kerry and, well, that's the way of the world just now.

"We have had many good challenges with Kerry over the last number of years.

"The last number of years they have had the upper hand over us big time.

"I suppose we are the ones who have to climb the hill again.

"The good thing is that we have the chance to be there in a couple of weeks' time playing the All-Ireland champions."

Meanwhile, former Tyrone player Ryan McMenamin, a three-time All-Ireland winner under Harte in 2003, 2005 and 2008, feels that as a result of some of the examples of gamesmanship last Saturday, referees will need to be more convinced of foul play before awarding frees in the upcoming semi-final showdown.

"They will come down hard now on diving," McMenamin said.

"When the referees come together in their meetings, they will pick on one issue - and for two weeks it will be this issue, be it a pick-up or a fist-pass - to get it correct.

"For the next couple of games there will be less frees. Players are going to have to work really hard to get frees."

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