TYRONE boss Mickey Harte has allayed fears of player unrest ahead of their Ulster Championship quarter-final date with Derry on May 28.
The recent decision by Jonathan Munroe to leave the Tyrone panel forms an unsteady backdrop to their championship preparations and is the latest in a sequence of controversies to beset the intercounty set-up this year.
Rumours have swirled on online discussion boards and many column inches have been filled as a consequence. Mickey Harte issued a curt riposte at Thursday night’s Ulster Championship Launch in Derry.
“There’s no issue at all. That’s a bit of fiction,” he said.
It was reported back in September that Mickey Harte’s request for a contract extension to beyond 2017 to the end of 2018 was rejected by the county board. Harte clarified matters in response to the news that Dublin boss Jim Gavin has agreed a two-year extension that will see him remain in his post until at least 2019.
“The answer is already out there. It is what it is. We’re in the championship this year and we have a year’s work to do.
“That’s what we’ll be doing and we won’t be distracted or deflected in any other way.”
Tyrone are preparing for their 32nd championship encounter against old rivals Derry. Since their first in 1906, the Red Hands have won out on 16 occasions but Derry aren’t far behind with 14 wins.
The other result was a draw in 2003, before Tyrone come up trumps in the replay.
Harte says derby clashes hold a particular appeal and that Tyrone are luckier than most in that regard.
“We’re a strange county in many ways. We have so many derbies, we border so many other counties, be it Fermanagh or Donegal or Derry or Armagh or Monaghan.
“That’s part of where we’re positioned and it’s good to have all those derbies because it excites the public and it excites the players.”
Harte is wary of talking about a possible date with Donegal in an Ulster Championship semi-final even though Rory Gallagher’s men are virtually unbackable to overcome Antrim in their quarter-final clash on May 21.
“If we talked about anyone other than Derry, if we thought about anything other than Derry we would be on a foolish road. We wouldn’t have to worry about a semi-final because Derry would be in it.”