An irate Mickey Harte delivered a damning assessment of the GAA’s black card rule after his nephew Peter picked up a third in four games to leave him suspended for Saturday’s Super 8s clash with Roscommon.
The player’s injury-time dismissal in Clones following black cards against Donegal and Longford, triggered a one-match ban yet the Tyrone manager said he “absolutely” expects to have the player available for the game in Dr Hyde Park insisting: “If we don’t, the thing is an absolute disgrace.
“I don’t think we will need any top-class lawyers to put a case together to appeal his cards.
I could appeal all three of them here right now. They were not even close to a black card. They are ridiculous.
The player’s reaction to referee Barry Cassidy’s interpretation of his challenge on a Cavan opponent as a deliberate trip suggested he felt more than hard done by. He was also sent-off in the opening 10 minutes of the Ulster semi-final defeat by Donegal for a tackle on Ryan McHugh, which even McHugh himself said afterwards was “a bit harsh”, and in the very next game picked up one late on against Longford.
The Tyrone boss is confident of getting some if not all of the black cards rescinded and criticised the process, which prevents any appeal of a black card until a third one is received.
“That is how ridiculous this whole thing us. It is so ridiculous that you can’t appeal one until you get three.
“Why do you think that happened? Because so many of them were appealable.
“You have to ask yourself the question, what was this brought in for?
“Cynical play, pulling somebody down when they were going for a score to decide the result of a game. What did Petey Harte want to commit a black card for there? Could anyone in their right mind tell me why he would even want to think of it?
“The whole thing when it came in was all about deliberate intent which were the keywords that were used. If there was any intent, where was it? Why would a man want to do that? Did you see any other tackles out on the field today? Did you see worse tackles that got no cards? Of course you did.
“I have to say Barry Cassidy had a good game and I told him that coming off. I said ‘well done, but where did you get the black card out of?’. It is so frustrating.”
The black card drama was the major talking point after a one-sided game in which Tyrone produced their best performance of the summer to lay down a serious marker about their intent heading into a Super 8s group which contains Roscommon, Cork and champions Dublin.
Cavan offered little. Trailing 0-12 to 0-3 at half-time, they already looked a team long-beaten by that stage. Unable to match Tyrone’s intensity levels, they had no idea how to break down the opposition. Dara McVeety, their best player all summer, didn’t score until the 69th minute and the game was a sad end to their year, coming off the back of a first Ulster final appearance in 18 years.
“I suppose it depends what you call ‘progress’,” admitted Cavan manager Mickey Graham.
“We just wonder where that performance came from after some of the performances we put in earlier in the championship. It was new territory for us but while we might have made a bit of progression forward, we still have a long way to go. A long way in terms of our development.
“It’s going to be hard for those lads. I don’t think they deserved that, they are better than that, but unfortunately the scoreboard tells it’s own story.
“Tyrone have experience and the conditioning end of things sorted, and they will be happy with where they’re at. It will take a very good team to beat them.”
Tyrone are seasoned specialists when it comes to using the qualifier route to heal the wounds of a bruising Ulster championship defeat. Uncertain, out-thought and out-fought by Donegal, they have regrouped and done what they have always done — built momentum through the back-door until they hit the last eight and Croke Park again.
Saturday’s win in front of 11,258 was the most compelling evidence this year yet, that they mean serious business again.
“It (back door) seems to suit us, which is alarming,” said All Star midfielder Colm Cavanagh. “It allows us to work on things and tweak and amend as we go.
“We’ve used a lot of men while doing that, so it’s a good place to be, but it’s only stage one.”
Harte agreed: “It is one day, one game at a time and we needed to win this one to be sure of three more.
“It was an important and challenging game for us because if we were not at the top of our game then our season would have been a very poor one.
“Now we have three more games to stay in this competition and give ourselves a fighting chance of making the semi-final.”
Mindful of the tests that are coming quickly, Harte took the opportunity that a one-sided game presented him with, and ran his bench with all six changes made with over 10 minutes to go. One of the subs, Ben McDonnell, scored the only goal in the 62nd minute.
Off went Cathal McShane, who again was a potent threat up front, off went Darren McCurry, who scored three points from play in three minutes in the second half, and off went a rejuvenated Niall Sludden who might just be rediscovering his best form after a season of struggles.
Scorers for Tyrone:
P Harte 0-5 (3f), C McShane 0-5 (3f), B McDonnell 1-0, D McCurry 0-3, N Sludden 0-2, N Morgan 0-2 (1f, 1 ‘45’), C Cavanagh, B Kennedy, C McCann 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cavan:
G McKiernan, N Murray 0-2 (2f) each, G Smith, D McVeety, C Madden 0-1 each.
N Morgan; HP McGeary, R McNamee, R Brennan; M Cassidy, K McGeary, F Burns; C Cavanagh, B Kennedy; M Donnelly, N Sludden, P Harte; D McCurry, C McShane, C Meyler.
K Coney for McCurry (46), P Hampsey for HP McGeary (51), M McKernan for Cassidy (52), B McDonnell for K McGeary (56), C McCann for Sludden (60), R Donnelly for McShane (62)
R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, C Moynagh; C Rehill, K Clarke, Ciaran Brady; Conor Brady, G McKiernan, N Murray, D McVeety, G Smith; B Fortune, C Mackey, M Reilly.
C Madden for Rehill (20), O Kiernan for McLoughlin (30), C O’Reilly for Ciaran Brady (HT), S Murray for Reilly (HT), T Galligan for Clarke (46, BC), K Brady for Faulkner (56).
Barry Cassidy (Derry).