By Peter Nolan
A new-look Kerry side topped Tyrone by 1-11 to 0-9 Sunday at Gaelic Park, evening both senior football A teams’ records at 1-1. Kerry, clad in their Munster blue jerseys, opened briskly with two Bingo O’Driscoll frees. O’Driscoll let it be known early that he would punish Tyrone for any transgressions, scoring 0-4 from frees in the first half alone. Midfielder Dave Hannify added another point for Kerry, the Longford man stretching Kerry’s lead to three points.
Tyrone were getting their share of the play in the fast-paced, entertaining contest but were being let down by poor finishing. On one occasion the Ulster men laid siege on Finbarr Flood’s goal and seemed certain to hit the net, but Flood and his backs somehow cleared the line.
Dave McSweeney was effective, catching and quickly moving the ball on, all the while frustrating Tyrone’s Jody Gormley and limiting his effectiveness. O’Driscoll’s third free put the Kingdom up 0-4 to no score, as Tyrone continued to squander chances.
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Darren Flanagan finally ended the shutout for Tyrone with a nicely struck point from the wing. Kerry full forward Padraig Griffin and Tyrone fullback Kieran Doyle were locked in an excellent duel. Griffin looked dangerous, but he never could quite deliver on his promise as Doyle had him well shadowed.
Kerry were stringing together some good passing movements and center forward Niall McCarthy pointed at the end of one after good work from Griffin and McSweeney. Tyrone continued to struggle to find the posts, wasting several good attacks. Full forward Oliver Gaughran’s shot went wide off the upright before Flanagan added a second Tyrone point, when a goal looked likely.
Gaughran stepped up to hit a 50, after Justin Murray had been denied by a good Flood save. Gaughran hit his 50 the old-fashioned way, off the ground, and it was a beauty, sailing over the bar to halve Kerry’s lead, 0-6 to 0-3.
O’Driscoll and Noel McPartland traded frees, McPartland’s on the stroke of half time to set the scoreline at Kerry 0-7 to 0-4, with 30 minutes to play.
Tyrone came out flying after the break, and Justin Murray opened the second half scoring with a fine point with Paul Dillon draped all over him. When McPartland followed with a point, Tyrone’s deficit shrunk to a single point, 0-7 to 0-6.
But Kerry bounced right back. Jamie O’Driscoll, who had an excellent second half, sent on an elegant lob pass over the Tyrone defense to Dave McCarthy. McCarthy made no mistake and Kerry had some breathing room.
Tyrone’s keeper, Anthony McCann, rose to the occasion to deny Niall McCarthy, when a goal would have crushed Tyrone. Still, Kerry kept coming, with Willie O’Donnell scoring consecutive points after Dave Hannify passes. Tyrone got a lift from substitute Bobby Murphy, who scored two points and won some good possession after his second half introduction.
The match, which had been enjoyable to warch, nevertheless bogged down as several injury stoppages took much of the life from the game. McSweeney and Hannify continued to sway the action Kerry’s way and Paddy O’Connor performed well in his familiar number five, after his recent foray in the forwards.
The exchanges were rough and referee Tom Fahey booked Gormley after a high tackle. Gormley got on the scoreboard, but Niall McCarthy’s point cancelled out his effort. Willie O’Donnell added a late point to close out the scoring, and Kerry had two badly needed points.
Kerry couldn’t afford to go 0-2, so Tom Canty and company will be very pleased with this result. At 1-1 Tyrone won’t be too disheartened by this result, knowing there is a long season ahead.
Man of the Match: Dave McSweeney, Kerry.
Kerry: Finbarr Flood, Derek Riney, Paul Gallivan, Paul Dillon, Paddy O’Connor, James Callaghan, Peter Riney, Dave Hannify (01), Dave McSweeney, Willie O’Donnell (0-4), Niall McCarthy (0-2), Bingo O’Driscoll (0-4), Dave McCarthy (1-0), Padraig Griffin, Jamie O’Driscoll.
Tyrone: Anthony McCann, Martin McMahon, Kieran Doyle, Eugene McCann, Phil Sloan, Collie Fearon, Brian Lanbden, Jody Gormley (0-1), Fergus Daly, Barry Loughrey, Damien patten, Darren Flanagan (0-2), Justin Murray (0-1), Oliver Gaughran (0-1), Noel McPartland (0-2). Sub: Bob Murphy (0-2).