GAA Football

Donegal defeat Tyrone but loss kept in perspective by Harte

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte watching his side against Donegal in the almost empty stadium at Ballybofey.
Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Kenny Archer at Ballybofey

Allianz Football League Division One, round six: Donegal 2-17 Tyrone 2-13

A MATCH lost, possibly a player lost for the Championship, Division One status on the line – but the loss of a life put all those adverse elements for Tyrone into perspective.

The sudden death of former Tyrone goalkeeper Jonny Curran yesterday morning shocked and saddened all those involved with the Red Hands.

Manager Mickey Harte said of the Coalisland man’s death: “It's very sad and, as I said to the boys before, that's really what life is about.

“We lose matches, we feel bad and we are disappointed about it, but it is not on the same Richter scale as this here. This is something that is life-changing for his family, his friends and neighbours, the people who will feel this the most.

“But, ultimately, it is his family who will have to live with this forever more and that is something they will not have anticipated they would ever have to do. I can only pray for them and hope they get the strength to get through it.”

On the football front, the Red Hands will have to avoid defeat away to Mayo next Sunday – if the games go ahead.

Next week's final round of AFL fixtures are dependent on the expected announcement today from the Republic's government on whether to move to Level 4 or Level 5 of their plans to tackle spiralling Covid-19 figures.

Level 4 would mean the final round of Allianz League games can proceed. A move to Level 5 could signal not just a premature end to the Allianz Leagues but also the postponement of the All-Ireland Championships, which are set to get under way on October 31 with Donegal and Tyrone due to meet again in Ballybofey on November 1.

If Tyrone do go to Castlebar next weekend they’re likely to be without Rory Brennan, who seemed to be sent off in added time after his hand made contact with the back of referee Jerome Henry.

Harte is hopeful that red card can be over-turned – if not, the infraction of ‘Minor physical interference’ with a match official carries a minimum 12-week suspension in all codes and at all levels:

“It appears that was the case, but laying of hands is a very broad term,” said Harte. “Maybe he touched his arm to make his point, I don’t know.

“I hope it isn’t seen as serious as that. I don’t think Rory is the kind of guy who would be doing anything like that. If he did it would just be the impulse of the moment, to ask him or to question, ‘What happened there?’

“Lt’s not pre-empt what it will be. We would hope that the people who look at it would see that wouldn’t be something he would ever set out to do and would have had no intention of interfering with the match official, if he did that; I didn’t see it…”

The one bright spot for Tyrone was the display of Conor McKenna on his senior inter-countty debut, the Eglish man scoring 1-2 from play: “That’s just his first game back in five years, you know, his first game at this level, he’s played a little bit of club football, but precious little,” noted Harte.

“To think he turned in a performance like that on his first day out is very encouraging. Hopefully with another few weeks’ football behind him, and a game next weekend, maybe he can get better.”

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