His poise and positioning were sorely missed by an overworked home defence, which also lost Eamon Fitzmaurice before the throw-in. That left the Kerry selectors shorn of four key defenders. In the event, the selectors gambled on Riobárd MacGearailt in the pivotal role, and while he started brightly, he clearly was out of his depth as a highly motivated Tyrone side took the spoils in a lively contest.
In an rearranged defence, Tom O'Sullivan lined out at full-back on Peter Canavan and did well on the Tyrone danger man. However, Tomás Ó Sé struggled to cope with Eoin Mulligan while MacGearailt, after a bright opening, began to struggle and was eventually substituted by Séamus Scanlon. Brian Dooher roamed the length and breath of the ground, and was hugely influential for the defending League champions, particularly in the opening half when Tyrone were at their most dangerous.
Despite playing against the wind in the opening half, it was the visitors who did most of the early running as Kerry struggled to cope with the pace and precision passing of Mickey Hart'e side. Kerry were grateful for the brilliance of goalkeeper Declan O'Keeffe who made two superb saves to deny Brian McGuigan and Eoin Mulligan certain goals as Tyrone threatened to ride roughshod over the home side.
The magnificent high fielding of Darragh Ó Sé at midfield settled Kerry after a shaky start and they found themselves 0-3 to 0-1 ahead at the end of the opening quarter. However, after Tyrone drew level with points by Mulligan and Canavan, they struck for the game's only goal in the 25th minute.
Working his way in along the end line Cormac McAnallan's shot came back off the upright to Peter Canavan and his effort, partly blocked by Tom O'Sullivan, slipped over the goal-line.
The Red Hands were rampant at this juncture. Kerry moved to try and stem the tide by taking off MacGearalt and switching Paul Galvin over on Dooher, but it mattered little.
Dooher continued to dictate matters and when Seán Cavanagh powered his way through for an excellent point Kerry, without a score for 22 minutes, looked in real danger of being completely overrun as they turned to face the wind, six points in arrears.
Kerry replaced Donal Daly with Aodán MacGearailt for the second half and coupled with a rollicking they obviously received at half-time from Ó Sé, were far more decisive on the changeover. Darragh Ó Sé continued to lord it at midfield with some magnificent high fielding, Paul Galvin succeeded in blotting out Brian Dooher and with Dara Ó Cinnéide excelling on the 40, it was Tyrone's turn to soak up the pressure.
By the 45th minute Kerry had cut the deficit to a goal with a brace of points by Ó Cinnéide and a marvellous effort by Mossy Lyons. As the tempo of the game finally began to pick up, Stephen O'Neill eased the pressure for Tyrone with two excellent points, but Kerry hit back with points from Johnny Crowley, Declan Quill and Marc Ó Sé, and with five minute to go, Tyrone were hanging on to a 1-12 to 0-12 lead. Kerry had one last chance but the best they could do was an injury-time point by Séamus Scanlon.
Scorers Tyrone: S. O'Neill 0-6 (0-4 frees); P. Canavan 1-2 (0-1 free); S. Cavanagh 0-2; E. Mulligan, B. Doher, McMcAnallen 0-1 each.
Kerry: D. Quill 0-3 (0-2 frees), D. Ó Cinneide 0-3; E. Brosnan 0-2; C. Cooper, M. Lyons,
D. O'Sullivan, J. Crowley, M. Ó Sé, S. Scanlon 0-1 each.
KERRY: D. O'Keeffe; T. Ó Sé, T. O'Sullivan, M. Lyons; M. Ó Sé, R. MacGearailt, J. Sheehan; D. Ó Sé, D. Daly; L. Hassett, E. Brosnan, P. Galvin; D. Quill, D. O'Sullivan, C. Cooper.
Subs. S. Scanlon for MacGearailt; D. Ó Cinneide for Hassett; A. MacGearailt for Daly; J. Crowley for Cooper.
TYRONE: P. McConnell; R. McMenamin, C. Holmes, M. McGee; C. Gormley, G. Devlin, P. Jordan; C. McAnallen, S. Cavanagh; S. Mulgrew, B. McGuigan, S. O'Neill; B. Dooher, P. Canavan, E. Mulligan. Subs. C. Gourley for McGee; E. McGinley for Mulgrew; K. Hughes for McGuigan.
Referee: P. Russell (Tipperary).