'It's a shame that he'd be a victim to someone else enticing him like that' - Mickey Harte on Sean Cavanagh red card
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has claimed Sean Cavanagh was a "victim of enticement" after the captain's red card in the 59th minute of their All-Ireland quarter-final with Mayo.
Cavanagh picked up a second yellow card for a high challenge on Aidan O'Shea, forcing referee David Gough to remove him.
But an earlier yellow, which he picked up after an altercation with his marker Lee Keegan just as the teams came back out on to the field for the second half, was the source of Harte's ire.
He was adamant that Cavanagh never looked for trouble like that in his career.
"I didn't see it so it's unfortunate that it happened but I know this for sure that Sean Cavanagh doesn't go looking for cards, he never did in his whole career.
"It was a shame that he'd be a victim of someone else enticing him into that. He doesn't go looking for anything and I can say that 100 per cent and I have no fear of contradiction," said Harte.
"He never went looking for a yellow card in his life. It seems a shame that a man at this stage of his career who has given so much to our games should fall victim to that kind of stuff."
Cavanagh had appealed to one of the linesmen in the first half for greater awareness of what was going on in his duel with Keegan.
"That's always the case," Harte said. "If a forward wants to go and attack and it ends up a wrestling match, it's not likely the forward is going to instigate that."
Harte said it was "always disappointed when someone doesn't get what they deserve" and the loss of Cavanagh for that crucial last period really told.
"Obviously in a game of that nature how tight it was and to lose a man like Sean. We just didn't lose any player, we lost our captain, we lost the most experienced player that we have and it put us under severe pressure.
"It's credit to the boys that they played as long as they did and kept in the game without him because that was a huge loss to us, not only his presence on the field but his ability to conjure up that winning score.
"You can't win games of this nature without a man like that on the field."
Harte said it was time for referees to "tune in" to the instigators of these flashpoints and punish them.
"Officials make decisions but this thing that there's always two involved. There isn't. There is always someone starting it and they need to be more tuned in to who started this thing."
Harte said he hoped Cavanagh would commit to another year amidst much speculation that he will bring his 15-year career to an end.
"Sean is in a bad state at the minute and I suppose at the stage of his career that's he at and the effort that he has given it wouldn't be a good time to ask him. I hope he takes time out to reflect on what's there for him and who knows what that will tell him."
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford rejected the suggestion that Cavanagh was deliberately targeted, pointing to the 'attention' Diarmuid O'Connor had received in the opening minutes.