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Tiernan McCann reprieve is a major boost to the Tyrone cause ahead of Kerry semi

By Declan Bogue

It was widely expected that Tyrone player Tiernan McCann would have his proposed eight-week suspension overturned at a Central Hearings Committee meeting last night in Croke Park.

Such a result would mean he would be available for selection against Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park on Sunday.

His team mate Conor Meyler, dismissed in the quarter-final against Monaghan with a black card, has had his card rescinded, on the same night that Mickey Harte brought the rest of the county squad to Belfast to watch the George Best musical, 'Dancing Shoes.'

One man who has been through the disciplinary system and can appreciate what it can do for a team is former Tyrone player Ryan McMenamin.

He was suspended after failing with his hearing following an incident against Armagh's John McEntee in 2005.

After losing the Ulster final, Tyrone were set to meet Monaghan in a round four qualifier, and as McMenamin explains: "The way it worked was, you had to go down to your hearing, and you could play up to your hearing. Then you could appeal it (if it was upheld).

"My appeal was on the Saturday night before the Monaghan game. I was in Croke Park until about half twelve at night before the Monaghan game.

"The appeal didn't go our way, so we had to lodge another appeal with the DRA (Disputes Resolution Authority) straight away."

Tyrone opted to pursue other means of appeal, but could not get a meeting with the DRA in time before another Ulster derby.

"The way they looked at it was, they couldn't make a legal decision on it that day," explains 'Ricey'.

"It must have been about half an hour before the game, I was told I wasn't playing. I had to miss out on the game."

McMenamin reveals that such a development was used as a motivation tool by Harte, a full 10 seasons ago.

He recalls: "Going into the Monaghan game, he named me to start. He named me in the team and he used it to our advantage, he is probably the best manager at that.

"He gets the siege mentality going and with me, he just named me in the team, said, 'no, he's playing boys. There is no distraction.'"

The Dromore man continues: "It was never brought up, it was never really discussed. But he would make comments every so often that 'this is what they are doing to us boys.'

"It was maybe his comments in the media that when the boys came to read it, it would sink into them.

"But at training, it was never discussed. There was total focus on the football and the training we needed to do. Outside that, he was working on it, trying to create the siege mentality."

A recent conversation on the Saturday RTÉ radio programme with former Kerry Chairman and now referee's chairman Sean Walsh was instructive, when Walsh pointed out to McMenamin that the CCCC did not issue the yellow card that is deemed appropriate for simulation, but handed down an eight-week ban for 'discrediting the Association.

"It's a grey area," McMenamin points out, "and anybody could be charged with it.

"My thinking was that the appeal would go ahead and they would have reduced it to four weeks, and he would have missed the Kerry game."

However, McMenamin was proved wrong and McCann is now a free man.

In other news, Mayo's Kevin Keane was also cleared of suspension from the other All-Ireland semi-final, against Dublin.

He was red-carded for striking Donegal captain Michael Murphy in their quarter-final, but his offence has been downgraded to a yellow card.

Keane appealed against the sanction and a meeting of GAA's Central Hearings Committee has decided to downgrade the punishment to a yellow card, making Keane eligible to face Dublin on Sunday week.

But all eyes in Ulster will be on the Tyrone team to face Kerry in Croke Park on Sunday, with McCann competing for a place.

All-Ireland SFC semi-final: Croke Park, Sun, 3.30pm



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