Kildare 0-12 Tyrone 1-11
Tyrone bring Kildare’s season to an end and set up a clash with Meath in a tense Qualifier clash at Newbridge this evening.
The Red Hands had to dig deep, after allowing a six points lead to slip away, and missing a penalty in the second half.
But they finished strongly, assisted by the late dismissal of Lilywhite full back Peter Kelly for a second booking.
Referee Joe McQuillan had to be escorted off the pitch by gardaí at the end of the game, and the GAA is sure to launch an investigation into the post-match scenes at St Conleth’s Park.
Mattie Donnelly’s first-half goal was to prove crucial in the end, as Mickey Harte’s side booked a trip to Croke Park with just two points to spare.
Johnny Doyle gave Kildare an early boost with a wonderful point from wide on the right after just 15 seconds, but Kildare’s old failing soon came back to haunt them as they shot a succession of wides and landed a number of shots short.
By the ninth minute, Tyrone had slipped into a two points lead, with the returned Stephen O’Neill causing all sorts of problems for marker Peter Kelly and later Hugh McGrillen.
O’Neill failed to get on the scoresheet but won the frees that Darren McCurry and Sean Cavanagh guided over, and played a key role in Mattie Donnelly’s tenth minute goal.
Moments earlier, Niall Kelly had a goal chance at the other end, but blazed over the bar. Tyrone were much more clinical when their opportunity arrived.
It was O’Neill who broke the ball into the path of wing back Ryan McKenna out on the right.
Mattie Donnelly had already started his run from deep and was at full throttle and un-tracked when McKenna released the ball into his path, and the Trillick man beat Shane Connolly with a precision finish.
That score gave the Red Hands a 1-3 to 0-2 advantage, and they pushed on with a rising level of confidence, moving the ball neatly and attacking effectively from deep, with Donnelly and Joe McMahon excelling in the sweepers’ roles.
Kildare also had extra men drafted into the defensive zone, but lacked the dynamism and the instinct to turn defence to attack, and also struggled to cut the supply of ball to front men O’Neill and McCurry.
It was Donnelly and Sean Cavanagh who thumped over long-range scores to open the advantage out to six, and while Kildare did have their moments, their finishing repeatedly fell far short of what was required, and their wides tally clocked to nine.
Doyle did land another quality point, his fourth of the contest, but at the break, the Leinster men trailed by 1-6 to 0-4. However, they made a storming start to the second half, hitting five points inside the opening eight minutes to go level.
Doyle, with two frees, Padraig O’Neill, Niall Kelly and substitute Paul Cribbin all split the posts as Tyrone’s apparently healthy lead was wiped away by the green-clad Lilies.
Tyrone were awarded a 47th minute penalty for Emmet Bolton’s foul on Mark Donnelly, but goalkeeper Connolly dived to his right to save superbly from O’Neill’s spot kick.
McCurry finally registered the Red Hands’ opening score of the second half after almost 15 minutes, and while that was quickly cancelled out by Doyle, Mickey Harte’s men found their rythmn once again for Joe McMahon to send Mark Donnelly through for a point, and Sean Cavanagh tapped over a free to make it a two points game with ten minutes to play.
The game was turning decidedly back in the Ulster side’s favour at that stage, and when Kildare full back Peter Kelly picked up a second yellow card in the 63rd minute, the home side faced a crisis.
Aidan Cassidy came into the game to give Tyrone the edge at midfield, and scores from Peter Harte and Eoghan O’Flaherty edged them four ahead.
The Lilywhite desperately needed a goal to salvage their season, but could only manage points from Eoghan O’Flaherty and Seanie Johnston.
Kildare: S Connolly, D Hyland, P Kelly, H McGrillen, E Callaghan, M O’Flaherty, Daniel Flynn, Daryl Flynn, P O’Neill (0-1), E Bolton, N Kelly (0-2), E O’Flaherty (0-1), J Doyle (0-6, 4f), T O’Connor, P Brophy.
Subs: P Cribbin (0-1) for Daniel Flynn, S Hurley for E Callaghan, S Johnston (0-1, f) for O’Neill, A Smith for N Kelly, E Doyle for O’Connor
Tyrone: P McConnell, A McCrory, C Clarke, C McCarron, R McKenna, P Harte (0-1), C Gormley, C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-4, 3f), Mattie Donnelly (1-1), Mark Donnelly (0-1), Joe McMahon, D McCurry (0-3, 3f), S O’Neill, M Penrose (0-1, f).
Subs: A Cassidy for C Cavanagh, D Carlin for McKenna, K Coney for McCurry, C McAliskey for O’Neill, Justin McMahon for McCarron
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).