Saturday 21 September 2019

Owen Mulligan hits out at 'ruthless' Mickey Harte over decision to start unfit trio

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Owen Mulligan has questioned some of the decisions made by "ruthless" Tyrone manager Mickey Harte in the wake of last Sunday's Ulster SFC quarter-final defeat to Monaghan.

There was a flash point on the hour mark when first-half substitute Ronan O'Neill was called ashore and former Red Hand attacker Mulligan has sympathy with his plight.

The three-time All-Ireland winner also believes Harte made a mistake by starting Colm Cavanagh, Tiernan McCann and Lee Brennan - who brought fitness concerns into the game and were all substituted.

"None of them made an impact and were taken off early. When you're playing a quality side at this intensity you can't expect to carry anyone with an injury.

"Surely Harte knows this? It gave Monaghan that more confidence to see these lads come off," Mulligan told Paddy Power News.

"I feel sorry for Ronan O'Neill. We all know Mickey Harte is ruthless, and I know it better than anyone. He really doesn't care who you are, if you're not performing, you're off.

"Also, Ronan's an Omagh man and that's his home ground which would sting him even more.


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"I thought it showed a lack of respect to him if I'm honest. It looked ridiculous when he threw the gloves. Harte won't take actions like that lightly, but at the same time he won't care.

"It happened to me in my first year at senior. You want the ground to swallow you up when it happens in front of so many people. I really hope Ronan doesn't throw up the head because he's a top-class player.

"The captain and the leaders will have to put the arm around the player and say, 'look, you came on and you were taken off, but we still need you'. When you're in that forward line behind a blanket defence and the ball's not coming in, it's a hard place to be."

Mulligan feels Tyrone were "papering over the cracks" during the league but despite pressure on Harte, he acknowledges that the Red Hand boss "is going nowhere" and is "well capable of taking the scenic route to All-Ireland success".

As for Monaghan, Mulligan was "wild impressed" and expects the Farney men to take Ulster honours, and maybe more.

"I thought Malachy O'Rourke got it spot on. His man-management looks to be outstanding and everything he did turned to gold.

"The whole squad look to be behind him and have bought into what he's trying to do," the former All-Star said.

"Having a goalie like Rory Beggan is a massive advantage. He's a game-changer. They're building something serious. Look at their wins against Kerry and Dublin, and now this. They'll take Ulster, who knows after that."

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