Harte: no problem with Cavanagh

MICKEY HARTE has dismissed claims his relationship with Sean Cavanagh has been compromised by quotes attributed to the Tyrone manager in his autobiography which was published late last year.

The 2008 Footballer of the Year sensationally started last August’s All-Ireland semi-final against Cork on the bench and the player and manager’s reasons for that late development were very different.

At the time, Cavanagh’s absence from the starting 15 was attributed to a stomach bug but Harte claimed in his book that the pressure had simply become too much for his player and that “the roof simply caved in”.

Harte replied “absolutely not” when asked yesterday if he felt that the incident would affect their relationship and he also expanded on his decision not to brief the player on the extract in question prior to publication.

“I did not bother doing that because I did not see any necessity to do that. What I had seen as giving my interpretation on how I read things might not always align with the way that Sean reads things.

“As you know, when it comes to the Australian Rules, we don’t agree but he is entitled to his opinion and I am entitled to mine and that does not necessarily make us enemies of each other.”

Cavanagh has so far remained silent on the matter so it was put to Harte at yesterday’s National League launch in Belfast whether the incident would affect his game in 2010.

“I think there is every chance it would affect his game ... it will make him even better.

“I am sure that he would be delighted to be up there and get the chance to do what he has done time and time again.

“It was much ado about nothing. This big furore in media circles about what was going on.

“I did not see that at all. I expect that sometimes people agree with each other and sometimes they disagree and often people make much more of it than there ever is.

“I have absolutely no doubt that Sean will be giving 100% to Tyrone this year and his ankle injury is well healed up now.

“He is working on rehab with a few other players and I would say that if you will see Sean Cavanagh back in Croke Park later in the year he will answer everybody with his performance.”

Cavanagh is just one of a handful of household names currently in rehab as the league openers approach but the news surrounding Stephen O’Neill, who suffered a serious elbow injury in Saturday’s McKenna Cup final against Donegal, is positive.”

“He had another scan yesterday and it confirmed that there was no fracture.

“It was a clean dislocation and our medical people believe that it will be six to eight weeks before he is back. They are pleased and that is music to my ears and to everyone in Tyrone and if that proves the case we will all be delighted.”

Meanwhile, Harte has called for the glamorous, and potentially crucial, round seven league game between Tyrone and Dublin to be played at Croke Park in April.

The counties have twice opened the NFL with floodlit fixtures at GAA HQ, in 2006 and again last year as part of the 125 celebrations. Both fixtures were enormous successes thanks to some excellent football and near-capacity crowds.

Significant obstacles stand in the way of a third such occasion, however. Firstly, the Tyrone board would have to concede home advantage and the initial signs are that they are less than eager to make the switch.

It would also be out of the question to hold the game under lights. The rules state that all final round fixtures must be played simultaneously and the GAA would hardly be amenable to bringing their entire Division one fixture list forward by a day to fit in with one fixture, no matter how attractive it may be.

Another stumbling block could well be the teams themselves. Neither Dublin nor Tyrone have threatened to make the league’s latter stages in recent years and attracting a sizeable attendance to a dead rubber wouldn’t be easy.

Tyrone will navigate the opening rounds of the league without key players like Stephen O’Neill, Brian Dooher, Philip Jordan, Sean Cavanagh and John Devine and they face tough ties against Derry and Mayo on the first two weekends.

Dublin’s odds of making a run for the league final would appear to be even longer. The county has failed to threaten the knock-out stages under a succession of managers and are deep in experimental mode right now.

“You are always in the mix, whether you are looking to get to something or avoid something so I would be happy enough to go to Croke Park with it because you are getting towards the summer time,” said Harte.

“It always generates a serious atmosphere that you can’t get anywhere else when you play Dublin in Croke Park, unless you are in an All-Ireland semi-final or final. If it was a possibility I, for one, would be pursuing it.”

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