Mickey Harte reacts angrily to Brolly’s criticism
Tyrone circle the wagons following controversial incident which sparked criticism of their inspirational midfielder
Tyrone’s Seán Cavanagh is yellow carded by referee Cormac Reilly at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
In true Ulster fashion, positions became immediately entrenched and words increasingly bitter as Tyrone manager Mickey Harte described RTÉ analyst Joe Brolly’s criticism of Seán Cavanagh as a “tirade.”
Harte still refuses to be interviewed by RTÉ.
What really came under the microscope after Tyrone’s return to an All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 2009 is the power, or lack thereof, of referees to adequately punish highly cynical fouls.
It’s the 49th minute and Conor McManus, Monaghan’s brilliant attacker, steps away from Dermot Carlin and thunders down on goal.
Actually, he doesn’t.
Seán Cavanagh, the four-time All Star midfielder and 2008 footballer of the year, rugby tackles him a yard outside the penalty area.
McManus’s subsequent free reduces Tyrone’s lead to 0-11 to 0-10 but Monaghan’s chance is gone. Cavanagh shrugs his shoulders and for the second championship game in succession receives a yellow card for a rugby tackle.
He is booed off the field afterwards.
Brolly wailed about the message such an action, by such an iconic figure, sends to young players, and questioned Cavanagh’s integrity, but the man himself adopted the elite sportsman defence.
“It is unfortunate, I don’t want to play football like that,” Cavanagh told Newstalk after the 0-14 to 0-12 victory in Croke Park on Saturday. “I would love to be able to go through and play football wide open and attack because that’s what I do best but whenever a man’s going through on goal unfortunately the rules of GAA dictate that a yellow card doesn’t make a massive difference to you.
“You have to accept that you can do those sort of things.”
Next year the Football Review Committee recommendation of a “black card” will force managers to permanently replace a player if he commits such a foul.
“I would be the first person to advocate the black card because I have probably been pulled down more than any player in my career,” Cavanagh continued. “I’ve never ever got sent off in my football career for club or county. I never struck (an opponent) or ever played dirty football.
“You do whatever you need to do to win these games.”
But Tyrone boss Harte is against the black card.
“Probably throughout the noughties we have done so well with the current set of rules we have in the game,” said Cavanagh. “There’s maybe slightly resistance to change.”
In the 70th minute Peter Harte committed a similar rugby tackle and was also yellow -carded by Cormac Reilly.