Kerry saved by the bell as Cooper forces a draw

Kerry were once again left hanging onto their Division 1 for dear life in Omagh but a draw was enough to see them save their skins.

Kerry saved by the bell as Cooper forces a draw

Tyrone 0-17 Kerry 1-14

By John Fogarty

Kerry were once again left hanging onto their Division 1 for dear life in Omagh but a draw was enough to see them save their skins.

Two years ago, a Paul Mannion score in Ballybofey kept them up but here their fate was in their own hands and they just about hung on thanks to the coolness of late substitute Colm Cooper, making his first Kerry appearance since August 2013.

With Tyrone needing at least a two-point win, they were one point behind in the final minute of normal time when Mattie Donnelly came close to finding the Kerry net. Darren McCurry then and quite inexplicably booted the ball over the bar in injury time although that score deprived Kerry of a semi-final place.

Kerry picked up six yellow cards as well as a black card for Stephen O'Brien and were fortunate not to have more players automatically replaced. But they were impressive in the second half, Kieran Donaghy playing a part in 1-3 of their total in that period.

Kerry had gone ahead thanks to the brilliant Paul Murphy in the 44th minute and were four points to the good a minute later when substitute Paul Geaney made the best of another replacement Darran O'Sullivan's parried shot. Donaghy had collected a long diagonal ball in from Jonathan Lyne before offloading it to O'Sullivan.

Tyrone fought back and were level in the 65th minute but Kerry, through a patient build-up of hand-passes with Cooper at the heart of it, went ahead again. Tyrone equalised once more with two minutes of normal time remaining only for Cooper to then send a peach of a ball into Donaghy who fisted it over the bar.

Tyrone were up by a point at half-time, 0-8 to 0-7, following a period of some scintillating long-range scores as both teams found ways of beating each other's staked defences. They were both guilty of several wides too but the contest was absorbing in how each were finding ways around and over each other.

Tyrone's discipline and graft were the primary reasons why they led by two after 20 minutes, 0-5 to 0-3. It was a dubious call against Sean Cavanagh that provided Bryan Sheehan with a chance to open his free account having earlier curled a point over from play.

The sides were level just after the half-hour mark when Paul Murphy added some urgency to a Kerry attack and split the posts. However, Tyrone put a couple of excellent distance scores over themselves, the first from Mattie Donnelly and another from an impressive Ronan McNabb seconds later.

Kerry returned with a brace themselves, Johnny Buckley adding his second point before another innocuous Tyrone foul, this time by Colm Cavanagh, was punished by Sheehan. Sean Cavanagh's switch to the role as target man worked well in the closing stages of the half and it was he who made the most of the free he drew in injury time.

Scorers for Tyrone: D McCurry (0-7, 2 frees); S Cavanagh (0-6, frees); P Harte, M Donnelly, R McNabb, Joe McMahon (0-1 each).

Scorers for Kerry: B Sheehan (0-4, 3 frees); P Geaney (1-1); J Buckley, P Murphy (0-2 each); D Moran, P Geaney, D O'Sullivan, A Maher K Donaghy (0-1 each).

Subs for Tyrone: Joe McMahon for P McNulty, C McAliskey for P Hughes (both h-t); PJ Lavery for T McCann (52); R O'Neill for Justin McMahon (58); C McCann for R McKenna (67).

Subs for Kerry: P Geaney for BJ Keane (18); D O'Sullivan for A Fitzgerald (h-t); T Walsh for S O'Brien (black, 42); M Ó Sé for P Crowley (54); C Cooper for B Sheehan (62); F Fitzgerald for K Young (65).

TYRONE: J Curran; C McCarron, Justin McMahon, R McNamee; A McCrory, R McNabb, R McKenna; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; T McCann, S Cavanagh, P Harte; P Hughes, D McCurry, M Donnelly.

KERRY: B Kealy; M Griffin, S Enright, P Murphy; J Lyne, P Crowley, K Young; A Maher, D Moran; A Fitzgerald, B Sheehan, J Buckley; S O'Brien, K Donaghy, BJ Keane.

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)

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