Sport

Sanction for training break would be harsh says Mickey Harte

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte feels that any punishment for breaking the 10-day rule on training camps ahead of Championship matches would be undeserved

TYRONE manager Mickey Harte feels that his county doesn’t deserve to be sanctioned over last weekend’s training break for his squad.

The Red Hands travelled down the country over the Bank Holiday weekend, arriving at their usual Carton House base early on Saturday after the players had taken part in club games on the Friday night.

In all, the Tyrone squad were made available for six club league games during the window of April and early May, breaking 16 days short of their Ulster SFC opener against Monaghan on May 20.

But while Harte (above) says their training weekend “didn’t interfere with the club schedule at all”, Tyrone are still set to be among those who lose a home National League game next year.

That’s the current punishment for going on a training camp outside the 10-day window before an inter-county championship game, but the long-serving Harte feels that the ruling is too black-and-white.

“I think if someone was going to apply a sanction like that, they’d need to look into each individual case because I don’t think there’s a blanket rule to cover all of that.

“Our players played six league games through all of April and into May when we haven’t interfered with the club schedule at all.

“I think the 10-day rule is a bit silly, it might as well be a seven-day rule because who’s going to be able to go away in the middle of the week anywhere?

“The only time then you’re able to go away is the weekend before your game, which is hardly ideal preparation for an important game.

“Anybody who looks at this in the real world and knows something about what’s required in these situations would be able to say it’s a bit of a blanket rule that doesn’t fit very well.

“I understand [why the rule exists] and we wouldn’t do it and haven’t done it. We haven’t interfered with our club programme.

“We wouldn’t go away out of the country at a time when the players need to be available to their clubs. I don’t think we’re in a position to take any sanctions for that.”

The will-he, won’t-he saga over whether Colm Cavanagh will play in Healy Park continues abound. He played no football for the Moy during the club break, though he was an unused substitute in their final game of that window last Friday night.

He is taking part in “80 per cent” of training according to the Tyrone boss but there remains a distinct possibility that, after such a long spell out, the Allstar midfielder could miss out.

And given the defensive role he’s fulfilled so flawlessly for the team in recent years, slotting a ready-made replacement in will not be easy, but Harte says they will only have themselves to blame if they don’t manage that situation well, should it arise.

“It’s a work in progress. We can’t say for certain that he’s in and we can’t say for certain that he’s out. He’s working with it and giving himself a fighting chance of being available for some part of it.

“How much of it that is will be determined in the next 10 or 11 days. He’s doing 80 per cent maybe. He’s getting there.

“If your team becomes dependent on one player, you’re probably not preparing your team well in the first place.

“We’d love to have him but we have to be mindful of the fact that we might not have him, and we’ve had plenty of time to think about that. Hopefully we’ll be able to deal with whatever unfolds.”

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