Toothless Tyrone easy prey for tigerish Kerry

Kerry 1-21 Tyrone 2-11
Toothless Tyrone easy prey for tigerish Kerry

A rivalry which has provided plenty of spice over the years seemed to take the weekend off as Kerry, nine ahead at the break, were seven to the good at the final whistle: it was a long trip home for Mickey Harte and his men.

The win provoked a flurry of calculations on the terraces and the stands as spectators tried to work out if Kerry had made the league final. They had, with Dublin on their radar once again.

Kerry began proceedings yesterday with a bang. Donnchadh Walsh picked out David Moran, who played a sweet crossfield ball to send Michael Geaney through in for a good goal in the third minute.

Walsh, who gave a terrific display, and Paul Geaney (free) added points almost immediately: Kerry 1-2 to no score up on four minutes and Tyrone struggling to find their feet.

Sean Cavanagh hit two Tyrone frees but Kerry were well in control, dominating totally around the middle of the field and driving forward from their own half-back line at every opportunity.

The home side’s dominance around the middle gave them ample opportunity to pick out their forwards, and accurate foot-passing kept Tyrone pinned back.

Kerry were 1-4 to 0-2 up at the end of the first quarter, but home keeper Brendan Kealy had to save well from Darren McCurry to prevent a Tyrone goal - Kerry added a Geaney free when they swept downfield.

Tyrone’s kick-out broke down (again) after that score, and Geaney added another cheap pointed free: 1-6 to 0-2 on 20 minutes, and Tyrone were glad of another Cavanagh free.

Michael Geaney and Walsh - a peach with the outside of the boot - hit back, and Barry John Keane was just denied by ‘keeper Michael O’Neill for a second goal. Another Geaney free and a good Stephen O’Brien effort pushed Kerry ten ahead on 26 minutes.

Peter Harte added two frees before the break, but Kerry were cruising at half-time, 1-12 to 0-6.

Tyrone emerged and pulled 14 men inside their own half immediately on the resumption, but lost Kieran McGeary on 37 minutes to a black card. Out of nowhere Tyrone got a goal - Peter Harte fielding a Frank Burns delivery to loop the ball over Kealy on 43 minutes: 1-13 to 1-6. The game then dipped in intensity again with two Tyrone black cards, leaving them less threatening up front. Kerry were able to maintain a healthy distance between the sides as a result.

Manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice gave a run to players like Bryan Sheehan and Darran O’Sullivan, while defenders Paul Murphy and Tadhg Morley were able to roam upfield and add to their side’s total.

Harte had a late penalty for Tyrone which he converted expertly, to make it 1-18 to 2-10. Ronan Shanahan got a black card in conceding the penalty but there were only four minutes left, and Kerry saw the game out easily.

Tyrone’s issues were many: they struggled with their kick-out strategy and conceded two points directly from malfunctions in that area, but further upfield the news was no better, with one forward - sub David Mulgrew - scoring from play.

Kerry had no such concerns after such a dominant performance, one which earned them a slot in the league final.

“We just wanted to look after our own performance and see where that would take us,” said Fitzmaurice after the game.

“We’d be a bit disappointed we didn’t finish out the job last week above in Cavan. We didn’t play great but still put ourselves in a winning position, so we were anxious this week to make that right. With the league being this tight we knew there’d be a chance for us to make the final, but it came down to us winning our own game.

“Without that we wouldn’t get there. Tyrone came back hard at us and their two goals gave them energy. We needed to react and we finished strong, which was a positive.”

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte was frank about his side’s defeat: “We had a very poor first half. It would have been easy to be slaughtered altogether.

“It would have been easy to be slaughtered altogether. At half-time we had to look at playing for a bit of pride.

“It was unlikely we’d overhaul that amount against a team like Kerry. We had to do our best to narrow the gap, and the fact we got it back to five was encouraging. It was a damage limitation job, unfortunately.”

Scorers for Kerry: P. Geaney (frees), D. Walsh (0-6); M. Geaney (1-2); BJ Keane, B. Sheehan (frees) (0-2); T. Morley, P. Murphy, S. O’Brien (0-1 each).

Scorers for Tyrone: P. Harte (2-4, 1-0 pen, 4 frees); S. Cavanagh (0-5, frees); D. Mulgrew (0-2).

KERRY: B. Kealy, F. Fitzgerald (c), M. Griffin, R. Shanahan, P. Crowley, T. Morley, P. Murphy, D. Moran, A. Maher, M. Geaney, K. McCarthy, D. Walsh, BJ Keane, P. Geaney, S. O’Brien.

Subs: B. Sheehan for McCarthy (45); J. Lyne for Crowley (49); D. O’Sullivan for Keane (51); J. Barry for Maher (60); G. Crowley for Fitzgerald (62); D. Daly for O’Brien (69).

TYRONE: M. O’Neill, A. McCrory, P. Hampsey, C. McCarron, T. McCann, R. McNabb, P. Harte, C. Cavanagh, P. McNulty, C. McCann, N. Sludden, K. McGeary, M. Bradley, S. Cavanagh (c), D. McCurry.

Subs: C. Meyler and J. Monroe for McCurry and C. McCann (HT); F. Burns for McGeary (BC, 37); D. Mulgrew for Bradley (40); C. McShane for Sludden (BC, 42); R. Brennan for McNabb (69).

Referee: M. Duffy (Sligo).

60 Second Report

Main man

David Moran processed a lot of ball in the middle of the field, but Donnchadh Walsh covered the ground as ever - and chipped in with six points from play.

Sideline superior

Eamonn Fitzmaurice will be happy with the energy shown by his team in the middle of the field in particular, and Anthony Maher’s run-out, but the poverty of the Tyrone challenge will mean the Kerry boss will not get over-excited about yesterday’s victory.

Turning point

The Tyrone goals had no material effect on proceedings, but Kerry’s early green flag from Michael Geaney rocked the visitors and put the Kingdom in the driving seat. They led from then to the finish.

Haven’t seen that before

No score from play by Tyrone until the 60th minute. A fair indication of how far off the pace they were.

Black card watch

Marty Duffy flashed the black card three times and was correct on those occasions, but both sides could have seen more players take an early bath if Duffy had been more consistent.

Man in black

Marty Duffy didn’t seem to police players over carrying and might have taken stronger action with a couple of other loose tackles.

What’s next

Kerry are in the league final, Tyrone prepare for the championship.

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