TYRONE joint manager Feargal Logan says Conor McKenna’s successful appeal to the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee is a massive boost ahead of Sunday’s Ulster SFC quarter-final clash with Derry.
A red card shown to McKenna by referee Joe McQuillan in the closing stages of the preliminary round win over Fermanagh was rescinded at a hearing on Monday night.
The former Aussie Rules star was sent off for ‘contributing to a melee’, but Tyrone immediately requested a hearing, insisting that he had become involved solely to protect team-mate Conn Kilpatrick.
Logan said: “It’s a big boost to have Conor available for Sunday’s game.”
Logan, a solicitor by profession with extensive experience in dealing with GAA disciplinary matters, said the right decision was made by the CCC.
“The right call has been made and we are happy with the outcome. When you look at the video evidence you can see that all Conor was doing was trying to ensure the safety of a team-mate who was on the ground.
“There are checks and balances within the GAA system to help with all of this and this wasn’t an appeal on Conor’s behalf on Monday night, it was an opportunity to hear our side of the case and what really happened.
“In fairness to the Central Hearings Committee, people who are all GAA volunteers as well, they got the call right.”
McKenna made a massive contribution when introduced as a half-time substitute against Fermanagh, changing the tempo of thE game with his strong running and direct approach.
“He is certainly a big player for us and you could see the impact that he had when coming on at half-time the last day, not only in the scores that he took but the energy that he gave to all of the players around him.”
Tyrone managers Logan and Brian Dooher called McKenna into their U21 squad as an 18-year-old back in 2014, but his decision to sign for AFL club Essendon and embark on a professional career meant he missed out on an All-Ireland title the following year.
“From the age of fifteen he was a player who was on everyone’s lips and we knew from that age that he was a special talent.
“Myself and Brian had him in the U21 set-up before he headed to Australia to play professional sport.
“It says a lot about him that he gave up probably his best years in Aussie Rules, 25-30, to come home and win an All-Ireland and he achieved that.”
Meanwhile, Peter Harte is expected to return to the Tyrone team for this weekend’s clash with the Oak Leafers, after missing the Fermanagh game as he recovered from an appendicitis operation.
“Peter Harte has been back in full training since the Fermanagh game and is available for selection on Sunday.
The Donnelly brothers, Mattie and Richie, also missed the preliminary round tie due to injury, and Logan is hoping that they can play some part at O’Neills Healy Park on Sunday.
“Mattie and Richie Donnelly are both working away in an attempt to return from their respective injuries and we will see where they are closer to the time.”