Tyrone see off Kerry to make it three wins on the spin
Mickey Harte’s side secure another victory in Omagh ahead of the Ulster Championship
Tyrone’s Ronan O’Neill and Kerry’s Tom O’Sullivan. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho
Tyrone 1-16 Kerry 0-14
With three wins on the trot, Tyrone now switch focus to the defence of their Ulster title with positivity.
Two of those successes, including this impressive five-point defeat of Kerry, were significantly achieved at Healy Park, which will host their championship opener against Monaghan on May 20th.
The Omagh venue has fallen far short of fortress status in recent seasons, but manager Mickey Harte feels his players are now comfortable in its surroundings.
“It’s always important to get wins anywhere, and I suppose to have a few at home is no bad thing either,” he said.
“People have come to know that Tyrone don’t do particularly well in Omagh, or our recent history doesn’t suggest that.
“So yes, it is good to get back-to-back wins at home against high-ranking teams, and we’ll enjoy that element of it, but it doesn’t guarantee that we’ll do the same when it comes to championship. That’s a new ball game and we have to be ready for that just as well.”
This was a tie that meant little to either county, who had each secured their Division One status a week earlier, but encounters between these great rivals are always competitive, and despite several changes to each side, this one followed the pattern.
Kerry’s movement and accurate kick-passing helped them find paths through a fortified home defence in the opening half, and with Killian Spillane kicking accurately from frees, and Daithi Casey, Michael Geaney and Stephen O’Brien landing points, they had a 0-6 to 0-3 advantage by the 20th minute.
The division’s top scorer, Lee Brennan, slotted a couple of points, and Cathal McShane also found the target, but with Mattie Donnelly spending most of his time in his own half, his side lacked offensive impetus.
Late in the half they committed more men to the attacking effort and kicked five of the last six points, with McShane blazing over when he could have had a goal.
Brennan gave them the lead for the first time in stoppage time, and they took a 0-10 to 0-9 advantage into the interval.
Tadhg Morley hauled down Conor Meyler for a penalty, which Ronan O’Neill kicked wide, but they did find the net in the 67th minute, McShane and Peter Harte combining for midfielder Declan McClure to palm home.
Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice had no excuses, suggesting Tyrone were more than five points the better team.
“The period just before half-time there, we were playing a lot of good football in the first 25 minutes. We then went in a half-time a point down,” he said.
“We got the first point of the second half but then we, I don’t know, were a small bit rudderless at times and I think Tyrone played very well. We were a bit lucky not to be beaten by more, to be honest. There is plenty there for us to be working on.”
Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, f); C McCarron, R McNamee, A McCrory; R McNabb, F Burns, R Brennan; D McClure (1-1), C McShane (0-3); M Donnelly (0-1), P Harte, C McCann (0-1), K McGeary (0-1), L Brennan (0-5, 4f), R O’Neill (0-3, 3f). Subs: D Mulgrew for McGeary (52), C Meyler for McCann (55), C McAliskey for Meyler (61), M McKernan for McCrory (63), B Burns for F Burns (70)
Kerry: B Kelly; B O Beaglaoich, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; C Coffey (0-1), M Griffin, M Geaney (0-1); J Barry, D Moran; M Burns (0-1), D Casey (0-01), K McCarthy; K Spillane (0-5, 5f), J Buckley (0-2), S O’Brien (0-2). Subs: E O Conchuir for Burns (h-t), T Morley for Geaney (h-t), B O’Sullivan for Casey (60), M Flaherty (0-1) for Buckley (68), G Horan for Moran (68)
Referee: M Deegan (Laois)