Harte breaker for Kerry’s ambitions

Kerry 2-17 Tyrone 3-8

Though winning by a six-point margin in yesterday’s concluding round of the Allianz NFL in Fitzgerald Stadium, Harte’s late free was crucial in determining their fate on the basis of Mayo having a better scoring record.

Yet, for all his disappointment, manager Jack O’Connor was looking on the positive side of having more time to prepare for the championship.

Despite the significance of Harte’s point, the concession of three goals undoubtedly proved costly for the All-Ireland champions.

And, if the first of them had come about as a result of a rare Seamus Moynihan mistake outfield, the second should never have been awarded because it came after a clear frontal charge on full-back Aidan O’Mahony which went unheeded by a referee who was to make a series of bad decisions after that.

Kerry dominated the opening 20 minutes as a result of exerting control in defence - where Moynihan was quick to establish a grip at centre-back - a stronger midfield and a more potent attack.

It saw them 1-5 to 0-2 in front at the end of that period, the goal coming from Dara Ó Cinnéide after good work from Eoin Brosnan, another to make a big impression.

However, by the 32nd minute Tyrone came within a point.

That was a situation which looked unlikely after the Northerners struggled in attack in the absence of top scorer Stephen O’Neill, who withdrew before the start because of hamstring trouble.

The improvement they managed was influenced by a tightening up at half-back and strong play from Sean Cavanagh. And, with a bit more support from the attack, where Ryan Mellon, Martin Penrose and Mickey Coleman did best, they might very well have been in front at half time.

Instead, having been limited by the withdrawal of Brosnan in the 25th minute with a hamstring pull, Kerry lifted their challenge, helped by the strong play of Brendan Guiney and Mossie Lyons at the back.

Paul Galvin and Liam Hassett were more involved at half-forward and Ó Cinnéide inside.

At the break it was 1-7 to 1-4 for the home side.

Kerry had the chance of a second goal in the 41st minute when Colm Cooper was put through by substitute Mike Frank Russell but shot straight at ‘keeper John Devine.

The loss of that was doubled when Tyrone goaled through Ryan Mellon after the foul on the full-back, to see them trail by a single score.

Tyrone were again in luck when the referee took no action after Galvin was elbowed.

Cooper netted an opportunist goal in the 53rd minute, ironically from an Ó Cinnéide mis-hit from a free.

Points from Cooper and Ó Cinnéide (2) gave Kerry a seemingly comfortable eight-point lead entering the final 10 minutes of normal time, but that situation was altered dramatically when Mellon expertly converted a 66th minute penalty.

Three well-taken scores from Tomás Ó Sé, Ronan O’Connor and Ó Cinnéide would have been sufficient to see Kerry advance, but a close-in free conceded in the 74th minute presented Harte with the easiest of kicks.

Scorers: Kerry: D Ó Cinnéide 1-5 (0-2 frees); C Cooper 1-4; L Hassett and D Quill (0-1 free), 0-2 each; E Brosnan, B Sheehan, T Ó Sé and R O’Connor 0-1 each. Tyrone: R Mellon 2-0 (1-0 pen); M Penrose 0-4 (0-2 frees); E McGinley 1-0; E Mulligan 0-2 frees; S Cavanagh and M Harte (free) 0-1 each.

KERRY: D Murphy; M Lyons, A O’Mahony, T O’Sullivan; T Ó Sé, S Moynihan, B Guiney; E Brosnan, W Kirby; P Galvin, P Kelly, L Hassett; D Quill, D Ó Cinnéide, C Cooper. Subs: B Sheehan for Brosnan (injured, 25th min); R O’Connor for Quill (57th); E Fitzmaurice for Kelly (64th). Yellow-card replacement: MF Russell for Sheehan (39th).

TYRONE: J Devine; R McMenamin, C Lawn, S Sweeney; J McMahon, G Devlin (capt.), P Jordan; C Holmes, S Cavanagh; E McGinley, M Penrose, M Murphy; R Mellon, O Mulligan, M Coleman. Subs: C Gormley for McMahon (52nd min); P Donnelly for Mulligan (55th); M Harte for Penrose (73rd).

Yellow-card replacement: B Meenan for Coleman (48th min).

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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