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How Tyrone have compromised with clubs to fit in training weekend


By Declan Bogue

After their first win over Kerry in eight years, Mickey Harte sent his Tyrone players away for the first clubs-only month of April with his fingers crossed.

However, the Red Hands are going to play it smart and get their traditional training weekend away - believed to be at Carton House - over the May Bank Holiday.

In order to do that, they have fixed a round of club fixtures for Friday, May 4 and will depart the following morning for two days to tune up ahead of their Ulster Championship quarter-final against Monaghan on Sunday, May 20 in Healy Park.

They are throwing a dummy to the rule contained in the GAA's Official Guide, rule 6.22 (b), which states that inter-county panels are not permitted to go on training weekends between the end of the National League and outside the 13 days prior to a Championship game.

However, breaking that rule carries no sanction and because they are not interfering with the club league programme, they go ahead with the full blessing of the county board.

Harte said: "We have accommodated the clubs and told them when we would like to have a particular weekend, so that weekend the matches will be played on the Friday night.

"And that means that while we won't be able to do much on the Saturday, we have the next couple of days to have the players.

"It's a matter of compromise and we're happy to compromise, and I hope the clubs appreciate that."

Tyrone's annual trip to Carton House has been in place for several years now, but interestingly they have never sought out sunnier climes, such as Armagh back in 2002, or Kerry, who tend to head for the Algarve - a practice that Kingdom manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice revealed they would not be doing pre-Championship, but they will have ample time to do so after they face the winners of Clare and Limerick on June 2.

Harte insisted that Tyrone are among the counties that allow their clubs plenty of access to the county players, but will be keeping his fingers crossed that everyone emerges from April injury-free.

"In Tyrone, we have always been very good in terms of sharing county and club football," he said. "Our players get at least 10 games in the league and they get every Championship match, so I don't know why we're always thrown into the same pot as everybody else.

"I think our players are well catered for, both club and county, and they go to their clubs with our blessing.

"That's the chance you take. People can get injured at training, they can get injured crossing the road, they can get injured getting out of bed, so you have to take your chances on that."

The Errigal Ciaran man was also delighted that the Red Hands managed to gather up a couple of wins on their home patch.

With four away games and a home loss to Dublin, it was important to bring some local cheer with Monaghan - who left last weekend behind with a memorable win over the Dubs - coming to Omagh in the Ulster Championship.

"It's always important to get wins anywhere, and I suppose to have a few at home is no bad thing either," Harte said.

"People have come to know that Tyrone don't do particularly well in Omagh, or our recent history suggests that. So yes, it is good to get back-to-back wins at home against high-ranking teams, and we'll enjoy that element of it, but it doesn't guarantee that we'll do the same when it comes to the Championship.

"That's a new ball game and we have to be ready for that."

Harte also answered some of the criticism Tyrone took after losing the opening rounds to Galway, Dublin and in round four, Monaghan.

"Sometimes people jump to conclusions too early, whether it be good or bad, and sometimes they have you as a world beater when you're not in a position to accept that term. Other times they have you as a no-hoper when that's not right either, so I think more balance is required when people are reporting and viewing things," he stated.

Belfast Telegraph


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