Darren McCurry helps Tyrone end long wait for win over Kerry in Killarney

Forward’s haul of 1-7 earns Ulster side a first win at Fitzgerald Stadium in 18 years

Kerry 2-11 Tyrone 1-15

Tyrone’s first win in Killarney in 19 years proved to be surplus to requirements in terms of preserving their Division One status, but this narrow success stirred something in the hearts of the All-Ireland champions.

A stuttering league campaign finally awakened the spirit of the Red Hand as they got one over on their great rivals.

Granted there was little at stake for a Kerry side that had already qualified for the final, in which they face Mayo next weekend, but this is a rivalry always worth defending, and they did so right to the end at Fitzgerald Stadium.

Darren McCurry’s 1-7 haul secured the points for a battling Tyrone side that wasn’t to know until after the final whistle that results elsewhere had maintained their position at the top table.

McCurry looked lively in the opening 10 minutes, slotting over three points as the visitors pushed into an early lead while playing into the wind.

David Clifford was always a danger, hoisting a typical score to cap an incisive move involving Paul Geaney and Michael Burns.

And in the 14th minute, it was Clifford’s creativity that prised open the Tyrone defence as Kerry struck for a brilliantly contrived goal.

The Fossa man drifted deep to slip the ball to Joe O'Connor as he thundered through the middle, and the midfielder took the unselfish option as he set up Tony Brosnan to rifle his shot to the net for a two-points lead.

Tyrone’s response was defiant, and with the next four scores, they got themselves back in front by the 26th minute.

The temporary loss of full back Ronan McNamee as he was attended to for a blood injury didn’t damage Tyrone resolve, and they swept forward for a volley of scores, the best of them a McCurry gem from wide on the right wing.

Peter Harte was at the heart of most of their positive offensive work, heavily involved in the two points that Niall Sludden sent over late in the half to make it a three-points game.

But Clifford’s class came to the fore as he swung over a spectacular score, followed by a Brosnan effort which reduced the deficit to a single point at the break, 1-5 to 0-9.

Tyrone got the wind in their backs for the second half, but it was Kerry who took up the running, with wing back Brian Ó Beaglaoich bringing them level with a fine individual effort.

Jason Foley kept full forward Cathal McShane under wraps, but there were other avenues for Tyrone, with Mattie Donnelly winning 50-50 ball and Kieran McGeary picking up loose ball to hook over a point.

The tempo moved up a notch at the end of the third quarter with two goals in the space of a minute.

Paudie Clifford, on as a half-time substitute, picked out Paul Geaney with a searching delivery, and as Stephen O'Brien connected with the final pass, he was hauled down and referee David Coldrick awarded a penalty, which Brosnan slotted to the bottom corner of the net for his second goal.

But straight from the kick-out, Darragh Canavan released McCurry, who still had plenty to do as he cut in on goal to blast his shot in off a post.

The Munster men went back in front as Clifford punished a wayward kick-out, and he almost caught out Niall Morgan with a dipping effort which the Tyrone goalkeeper pushed on to a post.

Gavin White maintained the home side’s lead into the final five minutes, but the Tyrone had the grit and the doggedness to grind out a result.

Two more points from McCurry placed balls had them ahead with a couple of minutes to play, with Harte’s long-range effort providing a cushion.

Kerry pressed relentlessly in the closing stages, but Frank Burns stood tall with wonderful resistance, McNamee, Pádraig Hampsey and McGeary also holding firm, and Kerry could only manage a Geaney free during five minutes of added time.

KERRY: S Murphy; D Casey, J Foley, T O'Sullivan; G O'Sullivan, T Morley, B Ó Beaglaioch (0-1); D O'Connor, J O'Connor; S O'Brien (0-1), J Savage, M Burns; T Brosnan (2-1, 1-0 pen), D Clifford (0-4, one free), P Geaney (0-3, two frees).

Subs: Paudie Clifford for Savage (h-t), A Spillane for Burns, J Barry for J O'Connor (both 46 mins), G White (0-1) for Casey (55), K Spillane for Geaney (69).

TYRONE: N Morgan (0-1, a 45); M McKernan, R McNamee, P Hampsey; R Brennan, P Harte (0-1), F Burns; C Kilpatrick (0-1), R Donnelly; C Meyler, N Sludden (0-2), K McGeary (0-2); D McCurry (1-7, four frees, one mark), C McShane, D Canavan (0-1).

Subs: L Rafferty for McNamee (15-23 mins, blood), M Donnelly for McShane (44), L Rafferty for M Donnelly (53), N Donnelly for R Donnelly (56), B McDonnell for McKernan (61), C McKenna for Canavan (68)

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).