GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final: Kerry 0-18 Tyrone 1-11
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
All-Ireland title holders Kerry showed the hallmark of champions at Croke Park as they stifled a thrilling Tyrone comeback with a storming finish themselves to book their place in next month’s final.
Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s side battled their way to a five-point lead with 13 minutes remaining and looked set to comfortably seal a final date with Dublin or Mayo next month.
But 1-2 from Tyrone in the space of just five minutes including a 60th minute Peter Harte penalty conversion tied up the scores in remarkable fashion.
The Red Hands couldn’t push on from there though and were outscored by four points to no score in the remaining minutes as Kerry advanced impressively.
Footballer of the Year James O’Donoghue top scored with four points but it was a strong team performance overall from the Munster champions.
Sub Paul Geaney delivered three points and two within that late really while Barry John Keane also came off the bench to fire the game’s last score.
The contest was all that the neutrals hoped it would be as two old rivals returned to Croke Park to reprise their 2005 and 2008 All-Ireland final ties.
Kerry memorably blasted seven goals past Kildare in the quarter-finals but were never likely to enjoy such gains against a Tyrone side that hadn’t conceded a goal since May.
Tyrone typically defended in numbers and played a counter-attacking strategy that they have fine tuned over five games since being knocked out of the Ulster championship.
But it didn’t take away from a tense and enjoyable encounter that ebbed and flowed from end to end at a high pace.
Tyrone navigated all four rounds of the qualifier system before seeing off Monaghan and returned to Croke Park with confidence and momentum.
They hit the ground running with two Darren McCurry points in the first three minutes. But Kerry would respond in kind with back-to-back Johnny Buckley points, indicating the sort of tit-for-tat encounter that lay in store.
It was thrilling at times as both teams probed for weaknesses. Marc Ó Sé was black carded in the 15th minute for what was deemed a cynical trip on Tyrone corner-forward Connor McAliskey.
The sides were level three times in the half before a great catch and left footed point from Kieran Donaghy nudged Kerry 0-8 to 0-7 clear at the break.
It was Donaghy’s last act as he was replaced by Geaney. Colm Cooper was relatively quiet too though came to life with back-to-back points after the restart. Sub Geaney fisted one over too as Kerry moved 0-11 to 0-8 clear.
Kerry were on top in this third quarter of the game and troubled Tyrone each time they ran at them. Donnchadh Walsh opened his account with a neat 48th minute score and O’Donoghue added a free.
With 20 minutes to go, Kerry led 0-13 to 0-9 and looked well in control. Tyrone lost Ronan McNamee to a 56th minute black card for lunging wildly at the onrushing Cooper. O’Donoghue converted the free to leave Kerry five up, 0-14 to 0-9.
But any hopes of coasting over the winning line were dashed by that incredible Tyrone recovery which forced Kerry to dig deep in a gripping finale.
Scorers for Kerry: James O’Donoghue 0-4 (0-3f, 0-1 45), Johnny Buckley 0-3, Paul Geaney 0-3 (0-1f), Stephen O’Brien 0-2, Colm Cooper 0-2 (0-1f), Donnchadh Walsh 0-1, Anthony Maher 0-1, Kieran Donaghy 0-1, BJ Keane 0-1.
Scorers for Tyrone: Peter Harte 1-0 (1-0 pen), Darren McCurry 0-3 (0-1f), Mark Bradley 0-2, Connor McAliskey 0-2, Ronan McNabb 0-1, Niall Morgan 0-1 (0-1f), Mattie Donnelly 0-1, Colm Cavanagh 0-1.
KERRY: Brendan Kealy; Paul Murphy, Marc O Se, Shane Enright; Killian Young, Peter Crowley, Jonathan Lyne; Anthony Maher, David Moran; Donnchadh Walsh, Johnny Buckley, Stephen O’Brien; Colm Cooper, Kieran Donaghy, James O’Donoghue. Subs: Fionn Fitzgerald for O’Se (black card, 16), Paul Geaney for Donaghy (h/t), Bryan Sheehan for Moran (55), Darran O’Sullivan for O’Brien (60), Aidan O’Mahony for Crowley (62), Barry John Keane for Walsh (70).
TYRONE: Niall Moran; Ronan McNamee, Justin McMahon, Cathal McCarron; Tiernan McCann, Ronan McNabb, Aidan McCrory; Colm Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly; Mark Bradley, Peter Harte, Conor Meyler; Darren McCurry, Sean Cavanagh, Connor McAliskey. Subs: âPadraig McNulty for Meyler (47), Barry Tierney for McCrory (55), Conor Clarke for McNamee (black card, 56), Ronan O’Neill for McCurry (66).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).