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Harte-Brolly row casts a shadow over fine Tyrone victory

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone 0-14 Monaghan 0-12: Somehow, without most of their best players firing at all well, Tyrone keep winning. They have found a way, through fair means and foul to get to an All-Ireland semi-final in three weeks against Mayo, destroyers of the champions, Donegal.

You have to hand it to Sean Cavanagh, though.

One week after producing one of the finest midfield performances of the last decade, he was at it again here against Monaghan for the first half.

His influence waned as Dick Clerkin got his teeth into him after the half hour mark but still, without Cavanagh, Tyrone would not be looking forward to an All-Ireland semi-final.

But after hauling Conor McManus down as he went through for a chance of a goal, Joe Brolly erupted in fury in the RTE box.

In a sustained and often personal attack, he began, "Mickey Harte jumping up and down, cheering and smiling as if they have achieved something. I'll tell you what they achieved, they have achieved something absolutely rotten..."

In a lengthy speech he went on to say, "You can forget about Sean Cavanagh as far as he's concerned as a man. What he did there was a total and absolute obscenity ... It's an absolute disgrace, I want nothing to do with it."

Was it cynical? Completely and utterly. But this is what the top teams do while the rules allow it.

When Mickey Harte entered the post-match Press conference he appeared highly-agitated and might have caught the gist of the comments already.

When told that RTÉ had been critical of Cavanagh he replied, "They would be, wouldn't they? Is that logical observations that we are getting from some of the stuff on there?

"It is complete tirade is all that I have ever heard from certain individuals on that score."

He raised the issue of other incidents of this nature, adding, "I would say, look at the game in its entirety and tell me how did the balance of fouling against the person add up.

"Give me the statistics in the game then I will talk about the individual instances."

For his part, Cavanagh himself was unperturbed by Brolly's reaction.

"It doesn't worry me one bit," he said.

"I play for Tyrone, I play for the team.

"I'll do whatever it takes to win.

"Unfortunately it's not pretty at times but sometimes (you have) to take these yellow cards.

"I completely see where all the pundits are coming from. I would love to play a game of football that is completely free-flowing because that suits my game down to the ground.

"I've never got sent off for club or county in my life."

All that occurred is for other people to debate, said Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke afterwards.

The football will almost be ignored in the week to come as this plays itself out, but for the record, Tyrone won this showdown, almost through muscle memory.

Monaghan's bright start was cancelled out by Cavanagh creeping into the game after the first quarter, aided by their hard-earned nous and experience.

Monaghan were aided by a red card issued to Martin Penrose after he punched Dessie Mone as both teams were leaving the field for half-time, but that numerical advantage was lost 12 minutes into the second half when Kieran Hughes received his second yellow card for a high tackle on Mark Donnelly.

Conor McManus' free with eight minutes remaining tied the game, but late points from substitute Ronan O'Neill and that man Cavanagh was a cushion in such a close game.

Tyrone are a serious team, but no one is quite sure just how much of a threat they actually are. "I just know that we have come through a lot of good games and tight games and that is good for any team," said Harte.

"How good are we? Who knows?

"We are into the last four playing the top teams this season and I would imagine we would have to get a lot better if we are to get into the final, so we are certainly a work in progress at the moment."

He added: "Nobody has a crystal ball but you have to believe it is possible and when you do it can happen so we believe it is possible."

TYRONE: P McConnell; D Carlin, C Clarke (0-1), C McCarron; C McGinley (0-1), P Harte (0-1), C Gormley; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-5, 2f); Matthew Donnelly (0-1), Mark Donnelly, Joe McMahon (0-2); D McCurry (0-2, 2f), S O'Neill, M Penrose. Substitutes: P McNiece for McMahon (46minutes), A Cassidy for McCurry (48minutes), R McNabb for McNiece, R O'Neill (0-1) for S O'Neill (55mins), P Kane for Mark Donnelly (65mins)

Yellow cards: Clarke (8m), McCarron (16m), S Cavanagh (49m), Harte (70m)

Red card: Penrose (35m)

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; K Duffy, D Wylie, C Walshe; V Corey, N McAdam, D Mone; O Lennon, D Hughes; P Finlay (0-2, 2f), S Gollogly (0-1), D Malone; P Donaghy, K Hughes (0-1), C McManus (0-6, 4f). Subs: D Clerkin (0-1) for Malone (30mins), C McGuinness (0-1) for Donaghy (half-time), T Freeman for Finlay (51m), J McCarron for Walshe (70m)

Yellow cards: Malone (13m), D Hughes (17m), Duffy (28m), K Hughes (29 & 47m)

Red card: K Hughes (49m)

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath)

Attendance: 70,018.

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