It was a very easy win for Kerry against Tyrone in round four of the qualifiers.
To anyone who did not know the recent history between Kerry and Tyrone in championship, yesterday’s duel in Killarney was more one sided than was expected. The score board indicated a ten point difference between the teams and it certainly did not flatter the victors. Displaying levels of intensity and aggression that are normally associated with Tyrone and scores fitting of the occasion Kerry dispelled notions that there is little left in tank and march onto the next round of qualifiers.
With Kerry never having lost a qualifier and Mickey Harter yet to taste defeat to his southern rivals something had to give in front of almost 25,000 buoyant supporters. From the outset it was Jack O’Connor’s charges that were more intent on preserving their record. The home side led by 0-8 to 0-4 at the break but even Harte conceded they were lucky to be only four points in arrears. “Kerry should have been further ahead at half-time” he said. “That gave us a lifeline and we didn’t believe the game was lost by any means”
That belief was justified when Tyrone goaled seven minutes after the restart. A shot from Joe McMahon was saved by Brendan Kiely but the rebound hit off Conor Gormley and rolled into the net. Within two minutes Kieran Donaghy put the game beyond the three-time All-Ireland winners. After a slow start to the championship, the man known as “Star” capped off a selfless performance when he palmed Bryan Sheehans pass to the net. Colm Cooper put behind him difficult days in Croke Park to kick four majestic points from play along with a free to move just three points away from becoming the all-time top scorer in Gaelic football history. It will be the unenviable task of the Clare footballers to prevent him from taking over from Mikey Sheehy at the top of the scoring charts when the sides meet in next weeks qualifier.
In a game that was never too far away from spilling over, Brian McGuigan got his marching orders just a minute and a half after entering the action, while referee David Coldrick issued a total of seventeen cards. Harte was critical of both the dismissal and the number of cautions but did admit they did not alter the course of the result.
Mickey Harte indicated that he will continue to oversee this period of transition for Tyrone football. Only four players that took to the field in their last encounter in 2008 started yesterday. For Kerry it is a familiar story. Questioned by many whether the hunger and appetite is still what it was, they save their best for the bigger tests. They will take to the field against Clare with their All-Ireland ambitions fully restored.