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Mickey Harte left fuming by late black card after Tyrone's Super show

Cavan 0-7 Tyrone 1-20

Doubling up: Tyrone’s Matthew Donnelly is tackled by Barry Fortune and Dara McVeety of Cavan
Doubling up: Tyrone’s Matthew Donnelly is tackled by Barry Fortune and Dara McVeety of Cavan
Mickey Harte
Mixed fortunes: Tyrone ace Peter Harte picked up a black card
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Tyrone offered yet another substantial ration of proof at sunny St Tiernach's Park, Clones that their capacity to glide along the qualifier route remains very much part of their DNA.

Not only did they jettison any aspirations Cavan had of joining football's aristocrats but fomented the notion that the All-Ireland title may not after all be a one-horse race.

Make no mistake about it, when Tyrone put their mind to it opposition reputations can be ground into dust and Mickey Graham's side have suddenly and quite dramatically been provided with all the time in the world on which to ponder on this.

Red Hands boss Mickey Harte knows a complete performance when he sees one but equally he is acutely aware that every game can offer a new challenge - and every referee has his own particular nuances.

Harte's obvious delight that his team had confirmed their entry into the Super 8s in the most convincing manner possible was nonetheless tinged with frustration following the decision of referee Barry Cassidy to furnish his playmaker-in-chief with a black card - his third in recent weeks - at a stage in added time when thousands of fans were already exiting the ground, the match outcome having long been decided.

"In winning this game we have assured ourselves of at least three more games in the championship and the chance of making it into the semi-finals," declared Harte.

"This is really good for us and for Tyrone football, but we will certainly be appealing the black card dished out to Peter Harte."

"It's such a ridiculous thing that you can't appeal one until you get three. Why do you think this is the case? It's because so many of them are appealable. It's ridiculous. Could anybody in their right mind tell me why Petey Harte would want to commit a black card offence in that situation? Did I see worse tackles out there on the field in this match that got no cards? Of course I did."

"I told the referee Barry Cassidy afterwards that he had a good game but I asked him where did he get that particular black card offence from."

The Tyrone boss remains confident that Harte - such a key figure in his side this year - will be available for next weekend's trip to Dr Hyde Park where a Roscommon side that have just been crowned Connacht champions will be lying in wait and thirsting to prove themselves against the elite sides in the Super 8s.

"I honestly don't think that we will need any top-class lawyers to put a case together to appeal Peter's cards," insisted Harte.

"I could appeal all three of them myself right now. They are ridiculous. What is the process? The process is that you can go back and appeal one or all of the cards. Will we do that? Absolutely."

For the greater part of the game, Peter Harte's selfless, unstinting labour, particularly in the middle third of the park, ultimately crafted his team's resounding victory.

Even by the end of the first quarter it was evident that Cavan were out of the depth, a team in turmoil, a rudderless ship in an ocean of despair.

It was bad enough from a Breffni perspective that they trailed by 0-5 to 0-2 after Niall Morgan (2), Brian Kennedy, Niall Sludden and Colm Cavanagh had bisected the posts but when Darren McCurry's murderous energy saw him rifle over three points in as many minutes, it was over and out for Mickey Graham's beleaguered side.

By half-time, Tyrone, without ever engaging overdrive, were cruising at 0-12 to 0-3, with no Cavan starting forward having scored from play at that stage because of the stifling efficiency of the Red Hands defence.

And if Cavan had hoped for a change in fortune after the interval, they instead had their noses rubbed even more firmly in the dirt.

The busy Cathal McShane, who gave Cavan full back Padraig Faulkner a torrid time, and Peter Harte brought their respective points haul to five, Conor Meyler worked his socks off both in defence and attack, Niall Sludden and Mattie Donnelly provided ample ammunition for the strike force and Ronan McNamee and Kieran McGeary buttressed a mean defence.

Not only did Cavan replace the normally reliable Faulkner but Jason McLoughlin, regarded as one of the best defenders, was also called ashore - a measure of the destruction that the Tyrone forwards were causing with their mesmerising movement both on and off the ball.

When substitute Ben McDonnell gobbled up a lengthy miscued ball from Kyle Coney and tucked it past Raymond Galligan in the closing minutes, it marked the administration of the last rites to Cavan's championship journey.

They managed only two points from play in the second half and even players like Cian Mackey, Dara McVeety and Martin Reilly, who can step up to the mark when the heat is on, were effectively shackled from the outset.

And manager Graham, honest and dignified even in what was perhaps his worst experience in football, was certainly not running for cover by any means at the end of it all.

"We have a long way to go in terms of our development and it's going to be hard for these Cavan lads going forward," declared Graham. "They probably didn't deserve what they suffered in this game to be honest because they are better than that, I can assure you. However, on this occasion the scoreboard tells its own story."

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