Owen Mulligan: Mickey Harte’s decision to start injured stars was criminal

The three-time All-Ireland winner with The Red Hands assesses his county’s loss to Monaghan, Ronan O’Neill’s sideline row and speaks on his former manager’s ‘ruthless’ side…


First things first, I thought Monaghan were brilliant. It could’ve gone the other way, but the big players stood up for them.

The likes of Rory Beggan and Conor McManus were unbelievable, total matchwinners. You need your big players to step up and ours didn’t.

Tyrone were papering over the cracks during the National League, at they lost their first couple of games and just about managed to stay up.

It was criminal from Mickey Harte that he started three injured players in Colm Cavanagh, Lee Brennan and McCann.

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None of them made an impact and they 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 bit more confidence to see these lads come off.

I thought that our defenders looked very flatfooted and we normally have a solid footing there. The forwards didn’t track back as much and Monaghan’s backs were running into acres of space.

They made Vinny Corey look like a bloody All Star! A goal from a centre-back, who was marking him?

The goal before half time would kill any team, it was a massive downer for Tyrone going into the dressing room. I thought Malachy O’Rourke got it spot on though.

His man management looks to be outstanding and everything he touched turned to gold. He made big calls, dropped his captain and it didn’t seem to disrupt things at all.

The whole squad look to be behind him and have bought into what he’s trying to do.

Having a goalie like Beggan is a massive advantage – he’s a gamechanger. They’re building something serious. You look at their wins against Kerry and Dublin, and now this.

I believe they’ll take the Ulster Championship and who knows after that?

In the last five minutes when a team needs a man to step up there’s no bigger leader than McManus.

The point he scored was ridiculous, absolutely insane and one of the best I’ve ever seen.

He’s the best forward in the country, and I would gladly part with my money to watch him play anywhere.

Cold-hearted decision

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.

I thought it showed a lack of respect to bring him on and take him off again.

It looked ridiculous when he threw the gloves though. 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 before Mickey came in, being taken off like that was a f**king nightmare. You want the ground to swallow you up when it happens in front of so many people.

The leaders need to step in and speak with him. I really hope Ronan doesn’t throw up the head because he’s a top-class player.

At the end of the day though Harte’s a winner and he’s going nowhere. He’s proved before that he’s well capable of taking the scenic route to All-Ireland success.

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What do you think?