By Mike Fitzpatrick
Tyrone 0-15, Kerry 2-9
A fanatical Tyrone contingent and an equally vocal Kerry support witnessed an exciting game which could easily have gone either way in this senior football clash at Gaelic Park.
Division II champions Kerry entered the fray as underdog, though with this type of performance it’s not easy to see why. But for some inaccurate shooting early on from Kerry’s forward line, the lads from the Kingdom could well have been facing a semi-final tie in their next Gaelic Park appearance as opposed to a replay versus their Ulster counterparts.
Tyrone opened the scoring with efforts from Phil Mallon, Eoin Gormley, Cathal O’Rourke and, predictably, Michael Slowey.
Kerry hit back through Mike Carmody, Bingo O’Driscoll and a great effort from Louis Holland to even things a little. Kerry’s nerves obviously suffered somewhat in the first half with a number of successive wides and, had they been converted, would have given Paddy Kearney’s side the lead.
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The unforgiving Tyrone side quickly took advantage and O’Rourke and Slowey soon had four points each to go into the interval well ahead.
If the first half was Kerry finding their feet, the second half witnessed them using them to full effect. Bingo O’Driscoll rediscovered his form and hit a couple of beauties over the bar, and suddenly we witnessed a Kerry renaissance.
Paddy O’Connor and John McGlynn battered through midfield to narrow Tyrone’s lead to four points. Then, out of nowhere, John Sexton fired in a goal to reduce the deficit to one.
Tyrone were clearly rattled.
What followed next was a fabulous Kerry move which witnessed Dara O’Chinneide hitting a goal to give Kerry a two point lead for the first time of the afternoon. Slowey and O’Rourke hit one each to level the tie for Tyrone only to see an amazing final two minutes where Kerry went ahead thanks to O’Connor’s deserved effort. The equalizing point was scored in the final ten seconds by O’Rourke to spare Tyrone’s season, for now at least. Kerry were clearly not overwhelmed and the replay promises to be a cracking game of football.
Tyrone: Mike Deere, Aidan Lloyd, Sean Teague, Martin Slowey, Philip Sloane, Gary McConnell, Collie Fearon, Danny Barr, Eoin Gormley (0-1), Philip Mallon (0-1) Cathal O’Rourke (0-6), John Cormican, Mark Daly, Paddy Redmond, Mickey Slowey (0-7). Subs: Duke Devlin, Barry Tally.
Kerry: Robbie Dowd, Peter Riney, Paul Gallivan, Paul Dillon, Louis Holland (0-1), Johnny Driscoll, Kieran Driscoll, Paddy O’Connor (0-1), John McGlynn (0-1), John Sexton (1-0), Mike Carmody (0-1), Bingo O’Driscoll (0-4), Dave McCarthy, Dara O’Chinneide (1-1), Willie O’Donnell. Subs: Niall Sugrue, Paudi Mulvihill.