Saturday 21 April 2018

Mattie Donnelly faces anxious wait with Tyrone-Mayo likely to come across CCCC radar

Donnelly: May face sanction. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Donnelly: May face sanction. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Colm Keys and Declan Bogue

Tyrone and Mayo face an anxious wait this week to see if any action will be taken by the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) over incidents that took place near the end of their Allianz Football League clash in Omagh on Sunday.

Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly appears to have most cause for concern after lashing out at Aidan O'Shea as they confronted each other just as referee Conor Lane blew the final whistle.

Tyrone newcomer Harry Loughran is less likely to have a case to answer after catching Cillian O'Connor high and late, also near the end.

O'Connor appeared quite disorientated afterwards but was still able to come to O'Shea's assistance and brush off an agitated Donnelly.

The CCCC have been quite active in pursuing teams retrospectively for general misbehaviour throughout this league, particularly with the increase in live televised games courtesy of eir Sports on Saturday night and TG4 on Sunday afternoons, with a series of fines being dished out to county boards.

Three players had charges placed against them when a melee erupted at the end of the Kerry/Mayo match in Tralee. Mayo's Danny Kirby and Kerry's Donnchadh Walsh were both given one-match bans, while the Kingdom's Peter Crowley was successful in quashing the charge.

Another cause for concern is that they have mined just one solitary goal - from defender Aidan McCrory against Dublin - to date in their six League games, a dubious honour shared only with Fermanagh and Wicklow.

By way of contrast, Mayo's goal, when Tom Parsons ghosted in unmarked to the heart of the Tyrone defence and took an offload from Andy Moran before drilling to the bottom corner, proved the difference.

"One goal is probably not a big enough return in the League, and goals win matches. They really do, I know it's a cliché, but especially in this division, you saw today, the goal just gave them the impetus going in at half-time," said Peter Harte.

"It gives you something to hold on to and to build on, and it ended up being the difference in the two sides."

Tyrone will need all their resources as they head to Killarney to play Kerry this weekend.

Five teams are still pursuing Division 1 final places but in the expectation that Dublin will maintain their unbeaten sequence and book a fifth successive final appearance the question is, who really wants to join them?

Dublin have won their last three league finals by a cumulative total of 41 points. Derry, 15-point losers in 2014, and Cork, who they beat in 2015, have largely struggled since.

Donegal have put themselves in a strong position on eight points with manager Rory Gallagher overseeing significant changes in personnel but, having lost their last four Croke Park meetings with the champions, would the pitfalls outweigh the benefits going into such a game there at this stage of their development?

Similarly, having exhausted so much to try and halt their run in Tralee last week, Kerry may feel their best would be to avoid another meeting so soon and try to set another ambush later in the summer, mindful that they lost last year's league final by 11 points.

Kerry can't be relegated, even if they lose to Tyrone, unless there is a 27-point swing either way between potential defeat and an anticipated Cavan win in Roscommon. The head-to-head has them locked together, courtesy of Sunday's draw.

Mayo's fate is in their own hands but they need a point from Castlebar on Sunday when Donegal may not have Ryan McHugh because of an ankle injury. Mathematically the Connacht men can reach a final but it would require Dublin and Kerry wins and a very significant victory over Donegal themselves - 12 points more than a Kerry win over Tyrone.

In Division 2 Galway look set to join already promoted Kildare, who they play this weekend, on the move up, while Tipperary and Armagh battle it out in the Athletic Grounds to decide who joins Louth in coming up from Division 3. A draw will suffice for Armagh.

Irish Independent

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