Cavanagh can see good in new rule

Player grants, International Rules, autobiographical revelations — Seán Cavanagh and Mickey Harte haven’t seen eye to eye on a number of things.

Now the new square ball rule can be added to the list with the player arguing in favour of the change. Earlier this week, the Tyrone manager insisted the amendment won’t do anything to alleviate the square ball issue. However, Cavanagh said it will and believes it will contribute to more excitement in the game.

“I wasn’t a fan of the square ball rule. It was often a cop-out clause, especially in club football where the ball might have been nowhere near the square when the square ball has been given. I don’t think it’ll do football that much harm — it might cause a few more skirmishes in and around the square.

“Maybe it’ll make the game a bit more exciting and maybe take away that bit of doubt and that frustration among players that was there before whenever a free was given out.”

Despite their differences on a range of issues, Cavanagh and Harte have always been on the same wavelength when it comes to Tyrone. With the murder trial of those charged with Harte’s daughter’s death about to start in Mauritius, the three-time All-Ireland-winning boss might understandably have other matters on his mind than the trip to Armagh on June 10 for their Ulster SFC clash.

However, Cavanagh says the Ballygawley man is more determined than ever to bring All-Ireland glory back to the county.

“We only see one side of Mickey Harte and that’s football. He’s driven by his hunger for success on the football field and he’s an extremely strong personality, a strong man. To be honest, he never lets anything outside of football interrupt what he does with us and on the training field.

“He’s more driven now than he had a few years ago because we haven’t been doing that well the past few years. I don’t think outside factors will play a big part.

“Knowing Mickey, if anything, it’ll drive him on. He’s not thinking of anything else from a football point of view than getting to Croke Park in August and September.”

But back to Cavanagh and Harte’s differences. Harte maintains being in Division 2 isn’t conducive to winning the ultimate title. Cavanagh, on the other hand, feels it has had little impact on them. At least this season. “With the number of guys we lost at the tail end of last year, I think we needed a bit of time maybe out of the spotlight, a bit of time to let the younger lads blood themselves. There’s probably five or six guys who at this time last year mightn’t have been considered for a place in the starting 15 and who are now going to get championship football. I think that’s going to stand them in good stead.

“If somebody had said to us at the start of the year, ‘You’ve won every game except one coming into championship football’, you’d have taken it.”


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