A rivalry through the years: Tyrone v Kerry

Eamon Donoghue looks back ahead of this weekend’s All-Ireland semi-final

2003 Tyrone 0-13 Kerry 0-6 - Croke Park, All-Ireland semi-final

Six years after the Tyrone minors edged Kerry in extra-time of their semi-final replay - and 17 years after their only previous senior meeting ended with Kerry winning the 1986 final - a new rivalry was born. Many of those minors were by now seniors as Tyrone ambushed the Kingdom in the semi-final at Croke Park.

Kerry were introduced to the new age as Tyrone players swarmed around them in possession, tackling from the front, bunching the middle, and counter-attacking at pace. Pat Spillane called it "puke football" but his county had no answer - Tyrone went on to win their first All-Ireland senior title and the game would never be the same again.

2005 Tyrone 1-16 Kerry 2-10 - Croke Park, All-Ireland final

Kerry came in as champions in 2004, while Tyrone were out to prove they were no one year wonder. The abiding memory from this game was Peter Canavan's first half goal, done justice only by the behind the goal camera angle. Owen Mulligan stepped in front of his man to catch Philip Jordan's teasing kick pass and pop it to the ice cool Canavan who rolled his shot into the bottom corner.

Mickey Harte had now led Tyrone teams to two All-Irelands, following on from Under-21 triumphs in 2000 and 2001, and a minor title in 1998. Tyrone were building a legacy and they clearly had the edge over Kerry.


2008 Tyrone 1-15 Kerry 0-14 - Croke Park, All-Ireland final

Kerry's twin tower threat of Kieran Donaghy and Tommy Walsh dominated the build up but Tyrone dropped Joe and Justin McMahon back into their full back line to great effect. The brothers did excellently as Tyrone came out on top after a scrappy encounter. Three titles in six years. The highlight of the game coming from the tireless Brian Dooher.

Tyrone’s iconic number 10 ran down the right sideline, came through two hard tackles, and kicked a beauty off the outside of his right boot at full flight.

2012 Kerry 1-16 Tyrone 1-6 - Fitzgerald Stadium, All-Ireland qualifier round 3

Revenge at last for the Kingdom, and all the sweeter in front of their home fans in Killarney. There were 16 yellows and a red card brandished as two teams with very little love for one another clashed in the qualifiers. Kerry were eventually beaten by Donegal in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Colm Cooper and Kieran Donaghy were rampant inside, with the latter scoring the decisive goal. The 10 point winning margin is the biggest of their seven championship meetings.

2015 Kerry 0-18 Tyrone 1-11 - Croke Park, All-Ireland semi-final

Kerry came out on top again three years later, and this time at Croke Park. Their first win against Tyrone at GAA HQ since 1986. Coming in as reigning champions they finished the stronger against a young Tyrone team who were kept afloat by Peter Harte’s penalty on the hour mark. Kerry at this stage, under the guidance of Éamonn Fitzmaurice, were well able to mix modern tactics with their traditional approach. The wet conditions led to an exciting contest, after which the championship head-to-head read: Kerry 3 Tyrone 3.

2019 Kerry 1-18 Tyrone 0-18 - Croke Park, All-Ireland semi-final

Kerry's Tyrone hoodoo was put to bed with a third win in a row in the 2019 semi-final - but by now both were unrecognisable from the famous teams of the 2000s. Mickey Harte was still in charge, but Tyrone were now spearheaded by 23 year-old Cathal McShane. Kerry's new talisman David Clifford was just six when Peter the great was making history in 2005. The Kingdom recovered from a four point half-time deficit to win by three.

Harte the innovator would only have one more year at the helm, and by 2021 their combined wait for All-Ireland glory would stretch to 20 years. The next chapter awaits this Saturday.