Tyrone to appeal Tiernan McCann’s eight-week ‘Rufflegate’ ban

Tyrone may have confirmed their intention to appeal the eight-week ban proposed for Tiernan McCann, but there was little further light shone on the affair at the county’s Garvaghy HQ last night as Mickey Harte met with the media.

It is two years since the county’s last pre-All-Ireland semi-final press conference when a fact sheet was distributed to journalists on the back of Sean Cavanagh’s rugby tackle on Monaghan’s Conor McManus in the last eight and the brouhaha that emanated from that.

The A4 sheet that night claimed Tyrone had been more sinned against than sinners in 2013, but there was no appetite to instigate debate on the latest controversy which arose with McCann’s decision to feign injury when having his hair tousled by Monaghan’s Darren Hughes. Rufflegate, as some wags are now calling it.

Harte had given an interview to the BBC earlier in the week in which he accepted McCann had erred in falling to the floor while adding that he hadn’t been the only party at fault in the incident and he wouldn’t be the first or last man to act in such a manner.

“I’ve said what I’ve had to say about it earlier this week and obviously the county board are contesting it so we’ll leave it there,” said Harte in response to the first query of the evening which, naturally, centred on McCann. “We’ll see where that takes us.”

And on it went for the next few minutes.

Journalists did their best to coax a weightier and more detailed response with questions of similar hues from a man whose visage, body language and clipped use of words declared his determination to do anything but accommodate them on that.

The decision by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) to advocate the eight-week ban for McCann has added a further layer of intrigue to the matter with those against pointing to the lack of precedent and those in favour claiming that is exactly why such a stand is required.

“Again, I would leave that to independent observers to judge,” said the Tyrone manager. “I would believe that, if you took a consensus of opinion across all independent observers, you’d probably find the answer to that.”

There was ample talk of Kerry and other football matters in a press conference that lasted close to an hour – most notable being the news centre-back Joe McMahon is unlikely to start the All-Ireland semi-final as he is due to have surgery on that hernia injury that forced his early exit against Monaghan.

But it is McCann’s situation and how it plays out in the next days and weeks through the GAA’s disciplinary system that will divert the attention for now. That and the more general debate as to whether Tyrone are somehow being unfairly singled out in all this.

“Well I always believe in life you get more of what you look for,” said Harte when asked if he was disappointed in the coverage.

“If you want to look for negativity and hone in on that then certainly you will get lots of it. But I would love to think people would be more optimistic than that, more open-minded than that and look for the good within.

“It’s typical of our game, indeed in general, where you have lots of nit- picking going on and fault-finders and they think that’s their brief in life. They don’t understand that there’s lots of good in our game at the minute. Of course there’ll be faults, of course there’ll be things that aren’t as they ought to be. That’s life – as they say, pobody’s nerfect (sic)!

“That’s what we’re faced with. So I wish people would take the good that’s going on in our games, highlight that – and, okay, acknowledge some things that could be done differently. We’ll all agree with that. But put the emphasis where it best belongs, on the quality that’s there.”

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