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Mickey Harte left fuming at captain's harsh dismissal

By Declan Bogue

Mickey Harte found himself as frustrated as anyone wronged in the great GAA tradition of booking both players involved whenever a bit of a rutting match develops.

Sent off Sean Cavanagh had received loads of physical attention from Lee Keegan in the first half and at one point, forcibly appealed to nearby linesman David Coldrick, who took no action.

"Sure that's always the case," said the fuming Tyrone boss. "If a forward wants to go and attack and it ends up in a wrestling match, well, then it's not the forward who is going to instigate that.

"In a game of that nature, and to lose a man like Sean - we just didn't lose any player, we lost our captain, the most experienced player we have - it left us under severe pressure.

"Officials make decisions, and this thing of 'there's always two involved'… there isn't. Someone has to start it. Officials need to be more tuned into who starts these things.

"Credit to the boys who played as long as they did and kept us in the game, because that was a huge loss to us. Not only his presence on the field but his ability to conjure up that winning score. You just can't win games of this nature without a man like that on the field."

On the one goal chance of the afternoon, when Connor McAliskey failed to give it the care it required, Harte reflected:, "A goal to any team in that game would have been a big, big score.

"Connor McAliskey would usually be good at finishing a chance like that. But the goalkeeper, that's his job, he is there to stop shots as much as he can. It was the only shot any goalkeeper had to deal with all day."

While Harte would reject the notion that his team were a little raw around the edges to be contesting All-Irelands in 2016, he did look ahead to 2017 with a great deal of optimism. The notion of needing to win Ulster to come back and win Sam next year held a certain appeal.

"Well, it would be nice to think you could do that. It's always good to win trophies and we got a few of those this year. I think it is good for players' confidence, winning competitions.

"This is the big one, obviously, and we haven't done the business in the big one. We will have to regroup and think our way through the first half of next year to see how we can position ourselves to win the provincial title and, in turn, go into the All-Ireland series and give it a real rattle.

"That's the standard, it's been set in Tyrone. Ultimate success is what people want and we will have to try to deliver that."

And, he hopes he can do it with his captain Cavanagh still on board.

"We wouldn't be expecting it," he said on a potential retirement.

"Sean is in a bad state at the minute and at this stage of his career that he is at, the effort he has given, it would not be a good time to ask him.

"I hope he takes time out to reflect on what's there for him and who knows what that will tell him."

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