Kerry fight off relegation against out-of-sorts Tyrone

Tyrone 2-12 Kerry 1-16

Kerry fight off relegation against out-of-sorts Tyrone

Tyrone 2-12 Kerry 1-16

Kerry held off a late Tyrone comeback to retain their top flight status at Healy Park in Omagh today.

The home side would have been highly embarrassed by their first-half display.

The fact that manager Mickey Harte made three changed before half-time suggests he was none too happy with his side's efforts as Kerry tore the already-qualified-Tyrone asunder every time they attacked.

Kerry's lead was 1-13 to 0-5 at the break and but for points from Mark Harte and Stephen O'Neill in the second quarter the deficit would have been a lot greater.

But whatever tongue lashing was administered at the break had the desired effect as Tyrone came within a hair's breadth of clinching a draw as Kerry held on for the win that clinched their place in division one again.

Despite defeat, Tyrone held on to second place and face a semi-final against Kildare, while Kerry were rescued by Dublin's late heroics in Ballybofey that send the All-Ireland champions down.

Most of Kerry's enterprising play arrived through the centre-forward berth as Colm Cooper with the unfamiliar number 11 on his back, stretched his play-making muscles.

By the 17th minute Kerry had opened out a 0-8 to 0-1 lead as a lead-footed Tyrone had no answer for their superior movement and attacking prowess.

Cooper was left in acres of space to pick his passes as will and on two occasions he laid on the assist for Kieran Donaghy, who gave Justin McMahon a torrid time.

Their movement was creating huge space for Kerry runners to attack from deep and Tomas O Se – who ended up as Kerry's top scorer – benefited most.

Two minutes from half time he punched to the net after a splendid move – which he started – involving Donaghy and Darran O'Sullivan to add to an earlier point as Kerry took an 11-point lead in at half-time.

The three early changes from Tyrone – Martin Penrose, Conor Clarke and Conor Gormely – made a real impact after the restart and fin the 40th minute Penrose set up Stephen O'Neill, who finished cooly past Brendan Kealy to start the Tyrone comeback.

The brilliant Johnny Buckley pointed from wide on the left to boost Kerry, but six points on the spin from Darren McCurry (2), Gormley, Joe McMahon and Clarke (2) dragged Tyrone back to within four points.

Five minutes into added time, Mark Donnelly hit the net for Tyrone form close range to give them faint hopes of another win, but the full-time whistle halted their gallop as Kerry survived.

Scorers:

Kerry: T O Se 1-1, Declan O'Sullivan, K Donaghy, C Cooper (2f) & J Buckley (1f) 0-3 each, Darran O'Sullivan 0-2, J Lyne 0-1.

Tyrone: S O'Neill 1-1, M Donnelly 1-0, S Cavanagh (1f), D McCurry (1f) & C Clarke 0-2 each, R O'Neill (1f), N Morgan (1f), P Harte, Joe McMahon (1f) & C Gormely 0-1 each.

Kerry: B Kealy; M O Se, M Griffin, S Enright; T O Se, E Brosnan, K Young; A Maher, J Buckley; J Lyne, C Cooper, P Galvin; Declan O'Sullivan, K Donaghy, Darran O'Sullivan:

Subs: B McGuire for Brosnan (4), P Crowley for M O Se (19-20 blood), D Walsh for Galvin (59), K O'Leary for Darran O'Sullivan (59), B Sheehan for Buckley (67), P Crowley for T O Se (70).

Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, Justin McMahon, C McCarron; R McKenna, Joe McMahon, R McNamee; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh; P McNiece, P Harte, M Donnelly; D McCurry, S O'Neill, R O'Neill.

Subs: M Penrose for R O'Neill (24), C Clarke for McNamee (35), C Gormley for McKenna (35), C McGinley for McNiece (51), C McAlliskey for McCurry (69).

Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).

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