Sigerson fixture timing riles Tyrone boss Harte

Mickey Harte has confirmed all seven of his Ulster University players will miss Saturday’s Dr McKenna Cup final against Armagh due to Sigerson Cup commitments.

Michael McKernan, Lee Brennan, David Mulgrew, Frank Burns, Ben McDonnell, Brian Kennedy and Benny Gallen will instead line out for UU away to IT Tralee in Kerry on Sunday.

Harte will reluctantly leave them out of his squad as he chases the pre-season trophy for the seventh time in eight years.

He said: “You’d have the possibility if they played for us on Saturday night they’d be shipped down to Tralee late at night or early the next morning and that wouldn’t be good for the players.”

“So, in the best interests of the players, we have to let them be this time.

We don’t want to put players in a difficult position even though we don’t think it’s a smart idea to have to be playing on the weekend when traditionally these (Sigerson) games have been midweek.

That in itself is disruption enough, but to have it at a weekend when it collides with our game is not best practice.

Harte called for the Sigerson games to be returned to a midweek slot. And he questioned how seriously the universities take the pre-season inter-county competitions, given they clash directly with their Sigerson commitments.

“That puts it into perspective too — they [the colleges] make sounds about wanting to be part of it, but they don’t want to qualify [for the knockout stages].

“This is an inter-county competition and we want to win it. So why would your word carry weight about what you should get or not get on the terms of engagement if you’re not that interested in the outcome? There has to be some accommodation. We need to make sure that the fixtures do return to mid-week, and you can live with that.”

Harte also revealed he didn’t engage with the Standing Committee on Playing Rules’ ‘consultation’ process before Christmas as the trial had already been sanctioned.

“To my mind, we got it [correspondence for feedback] when it was already sanctioned, passed to be used.

“So you’ve asked me to comment on something that you have already agreed you’re going to do anyway. Should I feel I should contribute to that? Not at all.

“We were asked do you ‘agree’, ‘strongly agree’, all this kind of nonsense, for something you weren’t even asked about in the first place which was agreed, legislated for and passed.

“A wee bit of consultation with people who are actually on the ground dealing with this day in, day out, on the coaching field that would be able to tell you right away that: ‘There’s an issue right away if we do that.’ But that information or consultation was never sought.”

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