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'GAA official told me match only went ahead because it was on TV' - Dessie Farrell's pitch woes as he condemns brawl

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The Omagh pitch before Throw In and (inset) half-time tunnel brawl

The Omagh pitch before Throw In and (inset) half-time tunnel brawl

A general view of the pitch conditions before the Tyrone v Dublin clash

A general view of the pitch conditions before the Tyrone v Dublin clash

SPORTSFILE

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The Omagh pitch before Throw In and (inset) half-time tunnel brawl

THE CCCC are primed to launch an investigation into the brawl that erupted at half-time in Omagh on Saturday between Tyrone and Dublin.

Footage of the incident shows punches being thrown by players from both teams, although given the number of people congregated in the Healy Park tunnel at the time, the GAA's disciplinary arm faces a challenge in identifying the culprits.

Speaking afterwards, Dessie Farrell stressed: "All I will say is that we came up here to play football and that was needless what happened at half-time."

The Dublin boss, who suffered his first league defeat as manager following a 69th-minute Rory Brennan goal, also insisted that a 'GAA official' had told him beforehand that the match would have been postponed were it not for the fact it was being screened live by both RTÉ and eir sport.

"A GAA official said to me that only for the TV being here the game would not go ahead," he stated.

"I referenced that at the start to the referee that the welfare of the players was paramount but ultimately he made the call on it and the game went ahead.

"There was no significant injury, thankfully."

He revealed that he raised issues over player safety with referee Cormac Reilly beforehand due to the wild weather and the muddy condition of the Healy Park pitch.

Farrell also allayed fears over Jack McCaffrey, who made his first appearance of the season as a half-time substitute but came off in the 66th minute.

"There was a slight concern with him," he explained. "He flagged something with us, so rather than run the risk, we said we'd get him out."

Beforehand, Reilly and his sideline officials wandered the expanse of the Healy Park pitch, lobbing balls into the air over patches of the playing surface where water had congregated.

In many instances, the ball didn't so much bounce as sink.

It must be said that much of the pitch in Healy Park was in remarkably good condition given the ferocity of the elements but just after Reilly made the call to press ahead, the weather deteriorated further.

"Undoubtedly, there is pressure on the schedule and they are very anxious to get these games played," Farrell observed.

"Tomorrow is another option and it would not have impacted greatly on the schedule, but the referee made a call on it."

Harte, unsurprisingly, had a different opinion. "We thought there was enough of the pitch in good shape," he said.

"Okay there was a few patches that needed a little bit of attention, but I think any pitch tonight would have that anyway. I think it was important that we got the game played tonight."

Online Editors