When asked if the absence of some key players had handicapped his side against a rampaging Tyrone he replied: “I don’t think it would have made a great difference. If we had Jack O’Shea and Pat Spillane today they wouldn’t have done. Tyrone are a fine side, as good a minor team as I’ve seen in a long time.
“They’ll take some stopping. We’ve no excuses, we couldn’t live with them.”
Although Kerry held their own for the opening quarter, Tyrone opened them up at will in the second quarter and might have bagged more than the two goals that ultimately ended the Kingdom resistance.
“The game is 60 minutes long and we were looking at two phases of 30,” said Tyrone boss Raymond Munroe. “In the first half the two goals were important and it gave us a platform from which we were able to tag scores on.
“We said at half-time there’s an All-Ireland semi-final place as long as we beat Kerry in the second half. We outscored them six points to five so that was achieved.”
The Ulster champions were worth every one of their nine-point winning margin. Their quick off-loading style, similar to the Red Hands’ seniors, had Kerry defenders grasping thin air at times.
Points from Richard Donnelly and Thomas Canavan, nephew of the legendary Peter, gave Tyrone an early advantage.
Kerry responded well with points from Mark Reen and a well-struck 45 by Eanna O’Connor, son of senior manager Jack, but Ronan O’Neill had restored Tyrone’s lead at 0-4 to 0-3 when they struck, in devastating fashion.
In the 20th minute John McCullagh was held up well by David Culhane but Harry Óg Conlon came steaming up on his shoulder and took a well-timed pass. The midfielder lost control of the ball as he hopped it but held his composure to finish to the net on the half-volley.
Before Kerry could regroup, Tyrone’s roaming centre-back Michael Donaghy took possession around 35m from the opposition goal and played a crossfield pass to Conlon.
Donaghy continued his run so when Conlon beat one man and drew a couple of more defenders, he was able to fist to his team-mate in acres of space. A neat sidestep round Kerry goalkeeper Damien Horgan and a sumptuous finish off the underside of the crossbar propelled Tyrone to a 2-6 to 0-4 half-time lead.
Substitute Gavan O’Grady did hit a couple of points for Kerry after the resumption, but Tyrone were comfortable and further scores from O’Neill and Ryan Lynch secured a comfortable win.
TYRONE: M McReynolds; S McGarrity, C Clarke, HP McGeary; N Sludden, M Donaghy 1-0, E Deeney; C Grugan, H Óg Conlon; 1-0 R Donnelly 0-1, T Canavan 0-2(fs), R Devlin; S Tierney 0-2, J McCullagh 0-1, R O’Neill 0-5(3fs). Subs: D Donnelly for Donaghy (48); R Lynch 0-1 for McCullagh (48); E McGahan for McGeary (56); P McNulty for Donnelly (57); D McCurry for Devlin (60).
KERRY: D Horgan; F McNamara, D Culhane, A Thompson; C O’Leary, L Bastible, J Hickson; J Walsh, S Keane; G Leary, M Mangan, T Morley 0-1; J Moynihan 0-1, M Reen 0-3(1f), E Connor 0-2(1f, 1 45). Subs: D Somers for Culhane (ht); E Kiely for Bastible (38); S McCarthy for McNamara (44); G O’Grady 0-2 for Keane (48); T Hickey for Hickson inj (59).
Referee: B O’Shea (Dublin).