Harte denies managers were consulted on handpass changes



Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has rejected a claim by the chairman of the GAA’s Standing Committee on Playing Rules, David Hassan, that all inter-county managers were consulted prior to the implementation of the experimental playing regulations in force in the pre-season competitions.

Following his side’s narrow victory over Derry in yesterday’s Dr McKenna Cup semi-final, Harte once again voiced his frustration at the changes, particularly the highly controversial limit on handpasses.

“No, he didn’t consult all the managers before they threw out these rule changes,” said Harte.


“They sent out some kind of an email survey when they had already put these changes in the public domain and got them through government, so to speak.

“No, we weren’t consulted before them at all. So that’s not accurate.”

Both sides saw attacks snuffed out by handpass incursions in the first half, during which the Oak Leafers, who will play in Division 4 of the NFL this season, gave last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists immense trouble.

Christopher Bradley and Enda Lynn tormented the Tyrone defence, helping Derry go three ahead.

But Tyrone finished the first half strongly, with Ronan O’Neill, Ruairí Sludden and Conall McCann hitting the points that sent them in at the break level on 0-6 each.

“Derry showed from early on that it was going to be a battle, scores were going to be hard to come by, there were plenty of defenders back marshalling their own sector of the field, and we found it difficult enough to break them down,” Harte said.

“When they went three up in the first half, it didn’t look very good for us, but we made a good surge at the end of the first half to pull it back to a drawn game.

That ultimately was very important, because of we had gone in to the second half three points down, I think we would have had a huge task on our hands to take something out of this game.

Harte introduced Peter Harte and teenager Darragh Canavan at the break, and both made a big difference.

Derry were ahead, however, nearing the end of the third quarter, after Patrick Coney had smashed home a brilliant goal.

But they scored just one point in the closing half-hour, while Harte’s frees saw the Red Hands home to a meeting with Armagh in next weekend’s final.

Derry manager Damian McErlain feels his team has made significant progress since the pre-Christmas nine-point loss to Tyrone in the group stage.

“There has been a bit of progress over the last few games, the boys are working well together,” he said.

“We are coming out a bit disappointed because in the second half we coughed up ball there at the end when there was still only a point in it for a 10 minutes period. When we got tired we started carrying the ball into tackles a bit.

“There were a few wee habits that probably cost us being even more close there at the end but overall I am very pleased with the effort.”

Scorers for Tyrone: P Harte (0-5, 4 frees); K Coney, R Sludden (2f), R O’Neill (1f) (0-2 each); C McCann, D Canavan, B McDonnell (0-1 each).

Scorers for Derry: P Coney (1-0); C Bradley (0-4, 3 frees, 1 ’45); S McGuigan (1f), E Lynn (0-2 each).

TYRONE: B Gallen; A McCrory, HP McGeary, M McKernan; B McDonnell, R Brennan, M Cassidy; D McClure, B Kennedy; C McCann, K Coney, C McShane; L Brennan, R O’Neill, R Sludden.

Subs: P Harte for O’Neill (h-t), D Canavan for L Brennan (h-t), L Rafferty for McCrory (h-t), D McCurry for Sludden (48), F Burns for Cassidy (70)

DERRY: T Mallon; E Concannon, C Mulholland, S Quinn; P Coney, K McKaigue, J Rocks; C McKaigue, C McFaul; R Dougan, J Doherty, P Cassidy; C Bradley, S McGuigan, E Lynn.

Subs: C McAtamney for Doherty (46), N Toner for Dougan (56), G McKinless for Bradley (56), D Hughes for Mulholland (62)

Referee: C Branagan (Down).