GAA Football

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte passes on chance to rebuff Sky's claim

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
Cahair O'Kane at Garvaghey

MICKEY Harte passed on the opportunity to rebuff Sky’s claim that they had nothing to do with narrowing the pitch at Healy Park for Tyrone’s clash with Dublin.

The pitch was narrowed from its usual width for the visit of the All-Ireland champions, who have based their attacking structure in recent times about keeping forwards wide.

It was a huge factor in Tyrone’s inability to lay a hand on them in Croke Park last year, whereas the Ulster side were much more physical this time around on the tighter surface as Dublin were made work for a 1-14 to 0-14 win.

Harte said after the game that it had been narrowed after “a request from Sky, that they would like more clearance at the side for all their technology.”

The broadcaster subsequently released a statement saying: “This is incorrect. Sky Sports did not ask for the pitch to be narrowed, nor would we ever make such a request.”

Asked to clarify it again yesterday, the Tyrone boss bristled: “I think that was well spoken about in the days and week after the match and I don’t think we need to talk about it again.

“Did you get that answer? Good man. For me, that’s finished, that’s over and done with, I’m not talking about it any more.”

The Red Hands face Donegal in Ballybofey this weekend, with Declan Bonner again last week highlighting the perceived lack of protection from referees for Ryan McHugh.

It’s the second time the Tír Chonaill boss has brought the issue forward this season, having also done so ahead of the Ulster final win over Fermanagh, but Harte says certain players on all sides come in for “very special attention.”

“We certainly could bring up a lot of players who get a lot of singular attention from the opposition, so it's not unique to anybody, or any county or any particular players.

“There is not only one player that gets special attention. Several players get special attention in many games and we certainly have a number of players who get very special attention.

“But look, we depend on the referee, his linesmen, and his umpires to take care of that and we will leave it to them to do that.”

The Tyrone boss confirmed that Cathal McCarron’s season is over with an unspecified injury that requires surgery, while Ronan McNamee’s injury has healed well in recent days but that he remains a major doubt.

“It is an impact injury. It's actually a calf muscle and there is fluid on it and it is very painful. But we would be hopeful that with time and the right intervention, it might just be ready.

“It's something I don't think is a great idea but we have to live with it anyway, that you have to name 26 of a panel on a Thursday morning but you can't change anyone but your goalkeeper.

“I don't agree with that, I don't agree that you have to name a 26 and you can't replace them. How that rule got through, because it's often you hear of a bug hitting a team and people coming down with something, maybe a couple of people getting injuries in the last session before the game.

“Are you expected to go into the game with 21 players if five or six of them fell down with something?

“I think it is a very harsh regulation to be there anyway and I think it should be reviewed. I think it's going overboard about teams being named.

“Maybe it's time for that to be changed as well. Maybe it's time to just list the players and let people fill in on a blank programme who is playing. Maybe that would be no bad idea.”

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