Tyrone seal safety with first in the Kingdom for 19 years

Conor Meyler of Tyrone tussles with Tom O’Sullivan of Kerry during the Allianz Football League Division One at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
From Jason O'Connor at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney

Allianz Football League Division One: Kerry 2-11 Tyrone 1-15

ALTHOUGH Tyrone’s position in Division One for next year was already secured prior to the final whistle, they managed to claim a first victory on Kerry soil since 2003 thanks to some strong late defending alongside a fine personal total of 1-7 for Darren McCurry.

Kerry had a number of injury-time chances to draw level but David Clifford was forced into some uncharacteristic mistakes as Tyrone came away with a victory that was deserved overall for their better application throughout.

While the sun shone as bright as it did in June of 2021 when Kerry inflicted that 16-point hammering on the eventual All-Ireland champions, the final result would ultimately give Tyrone more reason to smile. Needs must in terms of the League table and the was evident in the first half with Tyrone being the better team for the most part. McCurry had a lot of early success in putting the Red Hands into a 0-3 to 0-2 lead after 13 minutes.

The only goal of the first half came for the hosts a minute later though. Kerry’s nominated captain for the year Joe O’Connor made a strong run goalwards as it looked like he might take a shot at goal himself. He laid off, however ,to Tony Brosnan who finished to the net to put Kerry in front for the first time. Tyrone responded with four unanswered points though to go back in front as they were unlucky not to find the net themselves in the first period.

Kerry goalkeeper Shane Murphy was nearly caught out by a high ball before Conor Meyler eventually forced a goal chance wide. McCurry put Tyrone 0-7 to 1-2 ahead in the 26th minute as a Niall Sludden brace had them 0-9 to 1-3 in front after 32 minutes. A decent effort from David Clifford and a Tony Brosnan point made it 0-9 to 1-5 at the break in what were ideal playing conditions in Killarney.

Most of the excitement came in the second period as Tyrone’s response to Kerry’s second goal was a massive factor in their win. Stephen O’Brien was fouled in the 51st minute for a penalty that Brosnan converted for his second goal of the day to make it 2-7 to 0-11 to the hosts.

The visitors responded straight from the kick-out as Darragh Canavan gave a great pass to McCurry for Tyrone’s goal, the first Kerry have conceded from open play in all competitions so far this year. Both sides traded the lead entering the final quarter as matters were getting a little bit frantic at either end, Tyrone joint manager Brian Dooher even picking up a yellow card on the sideline.

Niall Morgan looked to have given Kerry the initiative back in the 57th minute when David Clifford punished him for a poorly taken kick-out to put the Kingdom in front by 2-9 to 1-11. Tyrone stayed focused on getting the result they needed though as McCurry drew the match level at 1-13 to 2-10 after 65 minutes. He followed up with a free before the impressive Peter Harte put over a fine effort in the 68th minute in making it 1-15 to 2-10.

Kerry put over one last free from Geaney, his last contribution in the match as Kerry had three separate chances for an equaliser in six minutes of additional time. David Clifford messed up two of them before Kerry defender Tadhg Morley was penalized for an incorrect hand pass in the hosts final chance to draw level.

Their pride will be a small bit wounded heading into their League final with Mayo next Sunday in Croke Park as this was their first defeat in any League encounter going back to February 2020 against Tyrone themselves in Edendork.

Tyrone, meanwhile, will look forward to three weeks of preparation now ahead of their Ulster SFC preliminary round trip to Fermanagh on Saturday April 16.

Indeed, the ghost of last June’s visit Fitzgerald Stadium was firmly laid to rest with this narrow win.

Kerry: S Murphy; D Casey, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; G O’Sullivan, T Morley, B Ó Beaglaoich (0-1); D O’Connor, J O’Connor; S O’Brien (0-1), J Savage, M Burns; T Brosnan (2-1, 1-0 penn), D Clifford (0-4, 0-1 free), P Geaney (0-3, 0-2 frees) Subs: P Clifford for J Savage (H-T), A Spillane for M Burns(47), J Barry for J O’Connor (47), G White (0-1) for D Casey (55) and K Spillane for P Geaney (69)

Yellow Cards: D Clifford (19), P Clifford (70).

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1 ’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, 0-4 frees, 0-1 m), C McShane, D Canavan (0-1) Subs: M Donnelly for C McShane (44), L Rafferty for M Donnelly (52), N Donnelly for R Donnelly (56), B McDonnell for M McKernan (62), C McKenna for D Canavan (68)

Blood sub: L Rafferty for R McNamee (16-24),

Yellow cards: F Burns (28), B McDonnell (70) C McKenna (both 70)

Referee: D Goldrick (Meath)

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