GAA Football

Tyrone's Conor McKenna is free to face Derry after ban is overturned

Tyrone's Conor McKenna came close to grabbing a goal against Fermanagh at Brewster Park.
Pic Philip Walsh

TYRONE star Conor McKenna will be available for selection against Derry this Sunday after his one-match ban for a straight red card was overturned last night.

The Eglish man was controversially dismissed in added time during the preliminary round victory over Fermanagh by referee Joe McQuillan, even though he had the shirt hauled off his back by two opponents.

The Central Hearings Committee accepted the Red Hands' arguments against McKenna's suspension and will now be able to play a part against the Oak Leafers in Healy Park this Sunday in the last Ulster SFC quarter-final.

After the win in Enniskillen Tyrone joint-boss Feargal Logan had protested McKenna's innocence, saying: "Joe McQuillan had a very difficult job out there, and did very well, but ultimately there are some times on a football field when a player isn't contributing to a melee, and he's simply looking to the safety of his own team-mate, or to the safety of others.

"And on this occasion we firmly believe that Conor was looking to the safety of one of his team-mates, and that's simply why he moved towards the matters.

"I'm going to leave it for everybody else to watch the video and work it out for themselves, but at some stage there must be justification on a football field to begin to assist and see to the safety of others."

Logan was referring to a Fermanagh player planting his gloved hand into the face of the grounded Tyrone midfielder Conn Kilpatrick, which prompted McKenna to go in and push that player over, before being grappled to the ground himself.

McKenna had turned the game against the Ernemen at Brewster Park, coming off the bench for the second half and lifting a previously torpid Tyrone with his direct running and incisive kick-passing.

The former Australian Rules Footballer will be a valuable option to the Tyrone attack against a Derry side which just fell short of gaining promotion to Division One, a dubious draw away to Roscommon the crucial result which cost Rory Gallagher's men dear in the end.

Tyrone joint-bosses Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher will now have to decider whether or not to include McKenna from the throw-in. Ardboe's Michael O'Neill returned from injury to line out in the number 11 jersey against Fermanagh before being replaced at the interval by McKenna. O'Neill may yet retain his starting slot, with his defensive nous and work-rate likely to be important against Derry, so another Tyrone forward could miss out if McKenna does come into the first 15.

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GAA Football