Mickey Harte hasn’t given up hope of holding on to All-Star attacker Cathal McShane as speculation intensifies that he is on his way to an Aussie Rules career with the Brisbane Lions.
And the Tyrone boss last night vented his fury at the GAA, calling on the Association to cut all ties with the AFL.
He claimed the partnership between the two Associations, which resumes with the staging of an International Rules series in Ireland in November of this year, is contributing to the flow of talented gaelic footballers to the professional game down under.
“It’s a bit sad that that used to be the job of some unknown scouts from Australia, but now it’s ex-GAA people in Ireland who are scouting our players to take them away to another League, which is no benefit to us whatsoever,” said Harte.
“It’s one-way traffic, it’s bonus-bonus for AFL, it’s loss-loss to us.
“It doesn’t make much sense to me, and that we would still engage officially with that outfit when that’s going on saddens me, to say the least.
“And I hope that somebody somewhere sees the nonsense of what we’re doing, and cuts ties with them at an official capacity.
“I think it would be well known that I wouldn’t be a fan of gaelic players being scooped by the AFL.”
Harte confirmed that McShane, Tyrone’s stand-out player last season, is due to make the trip to Australia to further explore the possibility of a move, but insisted he has signed nothing.
“He’s on his way temporarily I would suggest. He’s going out to see if that’s’ something that he wants to do.
“He has not made any final decision yet, one way or the other, and as long as he hasn’t made the decision to go there, I’d still hold out reasonable hope that he could still be playing football for Tyrone this year. But if he makes the decision to go there, that’s his prerogative to do so.”
Harte has spoken to his star player, offering advice on what he feels best suits his future, but insisted he will not attempt to influence any decision to be made by the Owen Roes’ clubman.
“I gave him my views on what I thought in my heart and soul would be best for his career, both on and off the field, and the very simple answer was that I thought it would be best served by being here.
“He has to take that on board, and he has to look at what may be on offer elsewhere and he has got to make that decision. It’s his final decision, and I respect him for that.
“He is going out to examine the situation out there for himself, that’s for sure, but he has not signed anything yet to say that he’s gone.
“So until he signs to say that he’s going to be an AFL player, I would still be optimistic that he could be a Tyrone player.” The Tyrone boss, who will also be without skipper Mattie Donnelly for a significant part of the season, pointed out that the GAA does not have to endure the same interference from the worlds of rugby and soccer as it attracts from the AFL.
“People are allowed to go to professional sport if they want to, and I have no issue with that.
“If they want to go and play rugby professionally, soccer professionally or play AFL professionally, that’s their own prerogative.
“But I don’t think we’re facilitating that in the rugby world, not facilitating it in the soccer world, but we’re still facilitating it in the AFL world.
“That makes no sense to me whatsoever. We don’t have international junkets with soccer teams anywhere in the world, or with rugby teams anywhere in the world, yet we have this with the AFL people.”
Harte was speaking after Tyrone beat Cavan in their Dr McKenna Cup opener as Donegal edged out Monaghan and Antrim defeated Fermanagh.
Conall McCann’s goal early in the second half helped set up Tyrone’s 1-16 to 0-13 win at Healy Park after the Red Hands had led 0-8 to 0-6 at half-time.
Scorers for Tyrone: C McCann 1-1 (0-1 om), D McCurry 0-5 (4f), C Kilpatrick, T McCann, D Mulgrew, D Kerr 0-2 each, L Rafferty, N Sludden 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cavan: N Murray 0-4 (0-1f, 0-1 om), C Madden 0-3, M Reilly, R Connolly 0-2 each, G McKiernan (f), O Kiernan 0-1 each.
TYRONE: B Gallen; C Quinn, A McCurry, B Burns; L Rafferty, R Brennan, C Grimes; B Kennedy, C Kilpatrick; T McCann, K Coney, D McCurry; D Mulgrew, C McCann, D Kerr.
Subs: N Sludden for Coney (48), N Kelly for Quinn (49), C Grugan for Kilpatrick (51), C McLaughlin for Grimes (57), B McDonnell for Kennedy (64)
CAVAN: R Galligan; P Meade, P Faulkner, E Fortune; S Murray, O Kiernan, C Brady, B Magee, G McKiernan; M Reilly, N Murray, S Smith; C Madden, O Pierson, C Smith.
Subs: R Connolly for C Smith (h-t), L Fortune for Magee (51), K Monahan for McKiernan (51), P Gilcreest for S Murray (56), C O’Reilly for Pierson (64)
Referee: P Faloon (Down).