Tyrone legend Peter Canavan has expressed disappointment at the accusations of the Tipperary U21 football camp that the Ulster men adopted a cynical approach during Saturday’s All-Ireland decider.
Tipperary officials refused Tyrone boss Feargal Logan access to the losing dressing room after the contest, such was their outrage at the off-the-ball behaviour of the Tyrone footballers.
Tipperary manager Tommy Toomey said his players “went out to play the game in the right vein”, whereas Tyrone “went out to play their way”.
Toomey added further fuel to the fire by pouring scorn on the treatment of captain Colin O’Riordan: “They know how to do it, that’s how they win matches.”
Tyrone U21 selector Canavan rejected the allegations of the Tipperary officials and management, stressing the All-Ireland champions were never instructed to act in a cynical manner.
“I would be very disappointed with [accusations of cynical play] because you ask any of those players in there have they been coached in cynical play this year, they will give you a very honest answer. I would be very disappointed if that was labelled at this team because that’s not what they’re coached and if there was cynical play, it was towards the end of the game when there’s a team hanging on to a slender lead and it was instinct that may have took over in some cases.
“But I’ll make it clear and I’m sure Fergal did, I have trained the team and there has been no cynical play involved in our training sessions and those fellas will back that up.”
Tipperary football board chairman Joe Hannigan has said county officials acted in the heat of the moment when turning away Fergal Logan from their dressing room door and Canavan believes accusations of cynical play could similarly be linked to “high emotions”.
“We could all look back at different incidents that happened in that game. It could happen in any competitive game when there is so much at stake. When they look back and reflect on [their accusations], they will say that’s not the case. We didn’t get here today playing cynical football. The long delay at half-time gave us more time to reflect on the first half and get our heads right for the second half. And what it also did was maybe it gave Tipperary a chance to think of how close they were to an All-Ireland. And if anything, we would like to have thought ‘this could work to our advantage.’”
Canavan, who captained Tyrone to back-to-back All-Ireland U21 titles in 1991 and 1992, insists Saturday’s win will have a knock-on effect ahead of the senior’s Ulster SFC opener against Donegal on Sunday, May 17
“There is a big step up from U21 to senior level. So what it does show is there is a lot of heart and determination and there is a group of young men who are prepared to do anything for the Tyrone jersey and that’s very pleasing.
“Ii’s good to know that we have men there who have what it takes to win All-Ireland titles. That will stand them in good stead in future years.
“The other point is, I was speaking to a number of the senior players out on the pitch afterwards and I have no doubt that this win will serve as a fillip to them and give them a bit of encouragement going into Ballybofey (against Donegal), where everybody is writing them off and they have no chance of winning.”
However Tipperary selector Michael O’Loughlin believes that referee Fergal Kelly lost control of last Saturday’s decider in the closing minutes.
Tipp felt aggrieved at the death when Kelly sent off Tyrone’s Michael Cassidy for an incident that followed the awarding of a free to the Red Hands.
Instead of throwing in the ball, Kelly allowed the original free to stand and Tipp were left to agonise on a one-point defeat.
O’Loughlin insisted last night: “It should be a hop ball, simple as that. It’s just disappointing at the end that the official didn’t make the right decision.
“You could feel it on the line that the game was slipping away from the ref in the last 10-15 minutes. Twice there were 16 Tyrone players on the field and one of their officials had to run in at one stage to get a player off.
“But it was just a bad decision at the end and one that he will regret now and has to live with.”
O’Loughlin has insisted, however, that it’s time to move on from the controversial loss. O’Loughlin added that the death of a Tipperary supporter at the game brought a sense of perspective to the fallout.
“A man travelled to watch us playing in an All-Ireland final that was at all of our senior games on the supporters bus.
“We have a small band of people following us all over the country and our players and everybody in the dressing room were very saddened to hear that at the team function afterwards. I’d like to sympathise with the family. It’s only sport, at the end of the day.”
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