"There's no corner turned yet until we get safe in this division..." Tyrone midfielder Brian Kennedy relieved after Red Hands edge out Kildare
BRIAN Kennedy wore Tyrone's number 14 jersey against Kildare on Sunday but he was the best midfielder on show in difficult conditions at Healy Park as the Red Hands edged out the Lillies by a single point.
Meanwhile, Conn Kilpatrick, who started in midfield, bagged Tyrone's first goal with a thumping finish early in the second half.
“That's two he's got this year,” said Kennedy of his All-Ireland final midfield partner: “He'll be looking to get into the forward line now.”
Tyrone were as delighted as they were relieved to get over the line on Sunday because defeat would have left them in danger of getting sucked into the relegation mire. Victory doesn't mean they're safe of course but Sunday's win will certainly have lifted spirits in the camp after retirements, injuries and suspensions robbed them of eight of the players who featured in September's All-Ireland final win.
New faces including Carrickmore's battling Monroe brothers Johnny and Cormac came in and helped turn a battle that could have gone either way Tyrone's way.
“I thought the lads who came in were exceptional,” said Kennedy.
“They put the shoulder to the wheel and really put in a good shift and that's the best result we've had this year.
“The new boys are here for a reason, they know what is expected of them when they put on a Tyrone jersey and they've stood up massively. We had four or five new faces in today and it was unbelievable to see them stand up and it was good to scrape over the line at the finish.
“It was a big result for us but there's no corner turned yet until we get safe in this division, there's still a lot of results that go for you or against you but it was good to get that win, it gives us a bit of confidence and hopefully we can build on it.”
The sun was shining when the game began on Sunday but rain was soon hammering down. It turned to sleet and there were flurries of snow falling soon after Tyrone had held on for a valuable one-point win.
“I was tough conditions but we're well used to it,” said Derrylaughan clubman Kennedy.
“We played a game against Monaghan at the start of the season and it was similar but that's League football, you have to adapt.
“When you're playing against a big wind like we were in the first half, it doesn't take much of a kick to take out your whole defence. Daniel Flynn inside is a serious operator and Razz (Tyrone full-back Rory Brennan) had his hands full but he did very well. Thankfully, as the game went on we adapted to it better and better and used the wings a bit more. I'm glad to see the back of that game definitely because it was tough.”
And of course the challenges keep coming. On Saturday night Tyrone travel to Ballybofey to take on a Donegal team that should be smarting from a nine-point hammering at the hands of top-of-the-table Kerry.
“They'll be hungry for points as well,” said Kennedy.
“Nothing's ever easy when you go to Ballybofey so it'll be another massive encounter, no doubt, but that's the way you want it. When you're playing against the best week-in, week-out it's the best way to improve yourself.”
After Donegal, Ulster champions Tyrone finish the League with games against the other provincial champions: Dublin and Mayo (both at home) and finally Kerry in Killarney.
“There are no easy games in Division One,” said Kennedy.
“Kildare were a serious outfit today, Armagh proved to be a serious outfit… On any given day, any team is capable of winning, it's all about how you turn up on the day and how you apply yourself.”