A gripping encounter at Healy Park on Sunday afternoon finished honours even but there were different consequences for both sides with Kerry surviving in the top flight and Tyrone making the drop down to Division II.
When Kerry substitute Paul Geaney scored the only goal of the game ten minutes into the second half Kerry led by four points but the home side produced a spirited fightback and could have won it with Seán Cavanagh and Joe McMahon both having goal chances while Mattie Donnelly hit the post late on.
Tyrone started brightly and raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead thanks to efforts from Seán Cavanagh and Darren McCurry. David Moran and Peter Harte traded points before the visitors drew level thanks to efforts from Bryan Sheehan and Paul Murphy.
Mattie Donnelly and Ronan McNabb then helped Tyrone into a two point lead again but back came Kerry through Johnny Buckley and Sheehan to draw level before a Cavanagh free left it 0-8 to 0-7 at the break.
Sheehan and McCurry exchanged points on the resumption and after Murphy had levelled matters Geaney struck for his goal. McCurry responded with a brace of points with a Geaney effort sandwiched in between.
Substitute Darran O’Sullivan then edged Kerry further in front and it needed a great save from Johnny Curran to thwart a Murphy goal. McMahon then got a point when there was a goal on but Tyrone kept plugging away with scores from McCurry and Cavanagh.
With five minutes to go a Cavanagh free brought the sides level to set up a thrilling finish. Midfielder Anthony Maher put Kerry back in front but a McCurry free levelled matters again. Kieran Donaghy fisted Kerry in front and in the final minute Mattie Donnelly was unlucky to see his shot for a goal come back off the post.
Two minutes into injury time McCurry’s seventh point brought the sides level but time wasn’t on Tyrone’s side as they were relegated to Division II for next season. A good result then for Kerry and with Colm Cooper making his competitive comeback into the bargain it was a good afternoon for the All-Ireland champions.
TYRONE: J Curran, A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron, R McNabb (0-1), Justin McMahon, P Harte (0-1), C Cavanagh, P McNulty, T McCann, M Donnelly (0-1), R McKenna, D McCurry (0-7, 2f), S Cavanagh (0-6, 6f), P Hughes. Subs: Joe McMahon (0-1) for McNulty, C McAliskey for Hughes, PJ Lavery for McCann, R O’Neill for Justin McMahon, C McCann for McKenna
KERRY: B Kealy, P Murphy (0-2), M Griffin, S Enright, J Lyne, P Crowley, K Young, A Maher (0-1), D Moran (0-1), A Fitzgerald, B Sheehan (0-4,3f), J Buckley (0-2), S O’Brien, K Donaghy (0-1), BJ Keane.Subs: P Geaney (1-2) for Keane, D O’Sullivan (0-1) for Fitzgerald, P Geaney for Keane, M O’Se for Crowley, F Fitzgerald for Young, C Cooper for Sheehan, T Walsh for O’Brien [black card]
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)