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Cavanagh: I won't rush a decision over Tyrone future

By John Campbell

When Tyrone lost to Kerry in last year's All-Ireland semi-final, their defeat proved a spur for a winning streak that was finally halted by Mayo in the last eight of the same competition at the weekend.

Now some of the team's more experienced players such as Aidan McCrory, Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte are urging the Red Hands squad to replicate that mantra by putting their latest loss behind them and focusing on the future.

When the Tyrone county board met at the end of last year's Championship campaign to review manager Mickey Harte's tenure, they engaged in detailed deliberations that at one stage suggested a change could be on the way.

But Harte was offered a two-year term and already the focus is switching to 2017 in what might prove to be his last year in charge.

This being the case, the fact that the players themselves are keen to see the momentum that was triggered this year sustained will provide Harte with the incentive to bring the side to a fresh peak next year.

While speculation continues to swirl in relation to the future of players such as Sean Cavanagh, the McMahon brothers Justin and Joe and indeed some of those who may not have felt that they got sufficient game time this year, a concerted effort is already being made to bolster morale and ferment optimism.

Cavanagh has revealed that he won't be rushed into a decision over his inter-county future.

"I have always said - and told the wife and she had me convinced - that this was my last year playing football," said Cavanagh. "At this stage, there are that many other factors that come into it and I haven't really slept much since the game itself.

"I'm not in the mind frame at the moment to make any rash decisions as I'm in the game long enough to know that you shouldn't do that.

"I promised myself and I promised everyone that 2016 would be my last year, but by the same token I was fully expecting to be in an All-Ireland semi-final and possibly final so whenever these things don't work out as you planned you have to rethink and that's exactly what I'll be doing."

It was McCrory who skippered Tyrone to the O'Fiaich Cup last December, the team's first taste of success following their All-Ireland semi-final setback last year, and since then he has been an ever-present in the side - someone who perhaps fully appreciates the necessity of remaining committed to the cause.

"We set out our goals at the start of this year and winning the Ulster and All-Ireland championships were among those but we had promised ourselves that we would always take one match at a time," stated McCrory.

"The fact that we came up short against Mayo was a disappointment but we now have to move forward. We hope people like Sean Cavanagh remain on board but you have to respect their decision."

While Harte and his Mayo counterpart Stephen Rochford have been at odds in relation to the alleged 'targeting' of Cavanagh by Lee Keegan, it would appear that the Tyrone boss is prepared to move on. Yet he is not the only manager with concerns about the efficiency of referees.

Commenting on Diarmuid Connolly's dismissal after a second yellow card against Donegal, Dublin boss Jim Gavin said: "We knew that some of our players would receive special attention.

"If the officials don't act upon it they are letting the players down - from both sides."

That's a sentiment with which Harte will undoubtedly concur.

Belfast Telegraph


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