GAA Football

Regular testing could help to stamp out the threat of doping in the GAA says Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

Mickey Harte says more regular testing is required to eliminate the threat of doping in Gaelic football 
Andy Watters

REGULAR testing would help to stamp out the threat of doping in the GAA says Mickey Harte.

Speaking last night, Harte explained that Tyrone have strict in-house guidelines governing the use of all supplements and medicines and that his players are warned not to take anything until team doctor Damien O’Donnell has given “the green light”.

In light of Kerry player Brendan O’Sullivan’s 21-week ban for using stimulant methylhexaneamine, Harte explained “Our team doctor is very, very diligent in that area.

“He always warns the players ‘do not take anything until you run it past me and until I check that it’s batch tested’. If it is batch-tested and he gives the green light then they can take things and that is ordinary, every day medicines and everything else.

“That’s the standard that prevails here and it has been successful for us.”

He added: “We’re tested regularly as a team – we’re maybe tested three or four times a year. If every county is tested to that extent that would be pretty diligent for all counties.

“I’m not sure that is the case but we would expect three or four times a year and we’ve always got that over the last number of years.”

Meanwhile, Cathal McCarron, Justin McMahon and Richard Donnelly are all back in contention for Tyrone’s Ulster semi-final against Donegal on June 18.

The trio missed the Red Hand county’s provincial opener – an 11-point win over Derry – through injury but could feature in the repeat of last year’s Ulster final.

McCarron looks likely to replace Ronan McNabb in the full-back line – McNabb will definitely miss the game after he injured his ankle playing for his club Dromore last weekend.

“Cathal is back training with us so the prospects are good on his front too – certainly better than the last time, when he couldn’t even be part of the 26,” said Harte.

“Richie has started to play again. He hadn’t played at all up until the Derry game but he has been in full training since that.”

Tyrone and Donegal have clashed five times in the last six Ulster Championship campaigns and the Tir Chonaill county had won four on-the-trot before the Red Hands took a measure of revenge with a two-point win in last year’s final.

Since that game there has been a changing of the guard in Donegal with experienced veterans including Eamonn McGee, Neil Gallagher and Christy Toye replaced by talented youngsters like Jamie Brennan, Ciaran Thompson and Jason McGee.

“There’s different personnel, but still the same template,” said Harte.

“They have others players who have come in and they play the Donegal way – you would have seen that in underage football with Donegal minors and U21s. They play basically to the same system so they’re no strangers to it.

“They will bring an energy and more mobility than some of the people they replaced because a lot of them were people at the end of their career – they were still great stalwarts for Donegal who had been there and done it all – but as the age caught up with them maybe they weren’t able to do it for 70 minutes the way they used to. So that won’t be an issue now, the energy and mobility will be there.

“It’s replacing a lot of experienced players with a lot of enthusiastic and energetic players, so I don’t think that’s a bad deal for Donegal.”

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