Sean Cavanagh at a loss to explain Tiernan McCann outburst

Sean Cavanagh at a loss to explain Tiernan McCann outburst
Tiernan McCann of Tyrone. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Tyrone great Sean Cavanagh has claimed Tiernan McCann has a reputation locally for being “too nice” and that he’ll be “gutted” with his two-match ban. Defender McCann was hit with separate two and one-match suspensions, which will run concurrently, for “inflicting injury recklessly” and also “behaving in any way that is dangerous to an opponent” after clashing with Donegal’s Stephen McMenamin in their Ulster SFC meeting.

The 2018 All-Ireland finalist will sit out Saturday’s Round 2 qualifier against Longford as well as an anticipated Round 3 game.

McCann’s hand and fingers made clear contact with McMenamin’s face with one report suggesting McCann “attempted to pull McMenamin’s gum-shield out” and that he subsequently apologised for his actions. It’s the second major disciplinary flash point of McCann’s career having infamously dived in the 2015 Championship, resulting in a dismissal for Monaghan’s Darren Hughes.

“I remember after the whole Darren Hughes incident speaking to him and he’s embarrassed and disappointed by that one,” said Cavanagh, who captained Tyrone to the Ulster title in 2017 with McCann at wing-back.

“If before that (Donegal) game you had asked me was there a likelihood that someone was going to lose their head, I wouldn’t have said Tiernan McCann. It’s just that now he’s been involved in two fairly high profile incidents. He’ll be gutted — but he’ll know he just has to take his medicine and get on with it.

But he’s not a player that has any malice in him by nature and anyone that would have played against him at club level would tell you that.

"He’s a very skilful player and someone who, if anything, would have had a reputation for being too nice. He’s exploded, I don’t know why that’s happened, but I’m sure he’ll have to ask himself a few questions.”

Donegal coach Karl Lacey claimed that McMenamin suffered problems with his vision immediately after McCann grappled with his face. McCann’s boot also came into contact with McMenamin’s head moments later though, according to reports, both players acknowledged during a phone conversation that this was accidental.

Cavanagh said it appeared to him that for McCann to behave as he did, something must have happened prior to the incident that angered him.

“I haven’t spoken to him or anyone related to the incident, but to me looking in, it looked like it was a reaction to something,” said the three-time All-Ireland winner.

“It looked like something had gone on whether it was verbals or something. I don’t think you do that ordinarily. I don’t see that being able to have been done unless it was borne out of pure frustration or anger or something must have happened there.

Ken Hogan, Ger Cunningham and Michael Moynihan review the weekend's hurling drama with Anthony Daly

“Tiernan would be the first to admit it just shouldn’t happen. There’s obviously a ban for it. We just have to cut all the nonsense out of our game because football is struggling from a marketing point of view. It’s lagging behind hurling and that definitely doesn’t add to the product.”

Cavanagh last featured for Tyrone in the 2017 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin. He stated in an interview weeks later that he felt the Dubs could go on to win ‘possibly eight out of 10’ All-Irelands and said yesterday that his opinion hasn’t changed.

“My whole mindset around Dublin hasn’t changed,” said Cavanagh. “Jim Gavin just blows me away in terms of what he’s doing there. He seems to be an amazing strategist. Everyone realised that probably the only weakness was in the full-back line and then you see Rory O’Carroll land back in.

“I think Kerry, on paper, are probably the only team that I feel at the moment could go on and score enough to take them down. But you’re obviously reliant on Dublin not scoring more at the other end.

“But if Kerry can get that forward unit that they have moving then they’ll definitely do damage. I’m sort of hoping they’re going to come to the party. If they don’t, it’s a procession for five.”

Sean Cavanagh was speaking at the official launch of the Benetti Menswear GAA Ambassador campaign for 2019. Benetti are an Irish designed menswear clothing brand who supply a fully comprehensive collection in tailoring, casual menswear, footwear and accessories. For further information see www.benetti.ie

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