The three-time All-Ireland winning boss was clearly stunned to learn of recent discussions to potentially introduce a version of hockey’s Auto Pass rule to the game.
In practice, a player who wins a free would have the option of tapping the ball to himself and continuing play without any major stoppage. In the event that opposing players don’t back, off then a free would be awarded higher up the field, potentially around the 45-metre line.
The idea hasn’t been officially proposed but is known to have been seriously considered by the powerful Rules Committee that convened in recent months and overhauled the separate square ball rule.
Harte is certainly not a fan and, speaking at last night’s launch of the 2012 Power NI McKenna Cup, didn’t hold back in rubbishing the novel plan.
“That is absolutely no advantage to our game,” said a clearly furious Harte. “It should not be allowed in. I see no value in it whatsoever. What are we doing here? What is it about? Would someone tell my why is it supposed to be a good idea or what advantage?”
When suggested that the change may ultimately speed up play, Harte had an even more withering response. “Speed up play?” he gasped. “How would that speed up play? Is speeding up play the be all and end all anyway? I think the game is fast enough. I think the referee has difficulty enough in keeping up with the speed that it is already. And how would they differentiate or decide if players are back far enough? What is the end of all of this?
“I think it has no part to play in our games. It’s detrimental. It’s absolutely off the wall, that’s what it is.”
Harte clearly is no fan of the potential change, though change is guaranteed when it comes to his panel. Five players have called it quits since the 2011 championship, including three-time All-Ireland winners like Philip Jordan and Brian Dooher. The others are Enda McGinley, Brian McGuigan and Philip Jordan and Harte ruled out any possibility of any of them returning.
“No, there is no chance of that,” continued the three time All-Ireland winning manager. “The people who are gone are gone. They took time out to make their decision, it’s not as if they made it in an instant or reacted to something. They have taken their time and we’d be quite certain they are happy with that decision.”
It leaves Harte in a position where he simply must use the McKenna Cup and Allianz League campaigns to break in new talent.
Tyrone had a stranglehold on the pre-season competition between 2004 and 2007 but haven’t won it since, something Harte is keen to put right.
Meanwhile, Antrim manager Liam Bradley has offered hope to Derry fans by confirming his two sons, Paddy and Eoin, will be back in action early in 2012. The pair were struck down by cruciate knee ligament injuries that cut short their 2011 campaigns. Amazingly, a separate family member, their brother-in-law, suffered a similar injury this year while knee problems ended father Liam’s career in the mid-1980s.
“It’s a bit of a jinx in the family so hopefully that’s done and dusted and they can look forward to a bit of football now,” said Liam.
“Paddy might play a McKenna Cup game. I don’t know whether he will or not, but hopefully he will. Eoin will probably not be back until the end of April but that’s still early, in terms of the overall year.”