As well as taking umbrage with some decisions made by referee Maurice Deegan, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte felt more than six minutes of second-half injury time should have been awarded.
Although no clear rule exists on the matter, the guideline for referees is that 20 seconds of injury time is to be added for each substitution, and so with either side making four changes in personnel during the second period of yesterday’s game, time spent by players entering and departing the fray would have accounted for just over two and a half of the six minutes which Deegan originally signalled for.
In the end, the watch showed that over 77 minutes elapsed when proceedings were brought to a close. Not enough, according to Harte, as he encountered All-Ireland semi-final defeat for the fifth time as Tyrone senior boss.
“I would have loved to have got a bit more extra time. Six minutes seems under the norm for modern-day games at this level, and particularly with the number of substitutions that were made, and the time that it took for some of them even to be made after the six minutes was announced,” said Harte.
“Maybe that’s game management, too, of another nature, but I think the referee should be up to that and give you the time that you deserve.”
Harte was also none too pleased with some of the “easy frees” Deegan awarded.
“It seemed to be easy to get frees at certain stages and this seeing things in the distance ahead of the game. One I thought was really strange; we were coming out with the ball, Mattie Donnelly is coming out to try and present for it, and he’s blown for holding.
Now, I wonder why he would want to hold the defender. He’d want the ball rather than to be holding the defender. My immediate reflection is that I thought there were a number of decisions that weren’t good for us.
With his 17th season at the helm just finished, Harte was asked if he still had the same desire and energy to continue in the job next season.
“I sure do,” he replied.
And while he refused to speculate on the future of the panel’s older members, Harte was certain this team have yet to reach their potential.
“This team is a work in progress, they will continue to compete at a high level, and they will get better. I have no reason not to think that, because if you look at their history and record over the last few years, it’s been very consistent and consistently getting better each year. And sometimes just because you didn’t get to the place you got last year, it doesn’t mean this team isn’t better.”
The three-time All-Ireland winning manager pointed to the impact Kerry received from their bench as key to the Kingdom overturning the northerners’ four-point advantage. “Half time is a dangerous place — if you are going well, you don’t want half time at all. We were going well up to half time and that’s a time-out to be able to make adjustments with settled minds. That was half-time at a bad time [for us].”
He added: “Tommy Walsh, when he came in, took a bit of the weight off David Clifford’s shoulders in terms of being the out-ball man. Jack Sherwood made a good difference too. He gave them a bit more experience, a bit more power, and it became much more of a toe-to-toe game.
“Maybe Kerry abandoned their own sweeper idea to a large degree and went at the game more. I haven’t got the count on it, but I felt we missed a lot of chances that we could have taken.”
Turning to the All-Ireland final, Harte reckons Kerry will push Dublin all the way to the line.
“Kerry are Kerry, they don’t go to finals to lose them.
“Dublin will have their hands full with them and who’s to say they can’t do it? Kerry are probably the ideal team to stop somebody else doing the five-in-a-row because they knew what that was like themselves, and maybe they would like to inflict that on somebody else.”