Reality bites for Tyrone in absence of O'Neill
Kildare took a point from Healy Park last night, where the reality of life without Stephen O'Neill began to bite for Tyrone.
The Lilywhites salvaged a late draw from their NFL opener under Kieran McGeeney, giving the former Armagh captain an encouraging start to his big-time management career.
The Red Hands looked like they were going to hang on in a dour struggle, but a dramatic late goal from Padraig Mularkey rescued a point for the Lilies.
In front of a crowd of 3,695, Tyrone asserted themselves in the opening stages, with Kevin Hughes and Colm McCullagh, from free, edging them in front.
It wasn't until the 15th minute that John Doyle opened Kildare's account from a free, won by the persistence of Ronan Sweeney.
With half an hour played, they still had just a solitary point on the board. In the meantime, Tyrone had eased into a four-point lead, with scores from McCullagh (2) and Enda McGinley, whose wickedly dipping shot just cleared the crossbar.
Doyle knocked over a 45 and at the break just two points separated the sides: Tyrone ahead by 0-5 to 0-3, after playing into the gusting breeze.
The green-clad Lilywhites started the second half in inspired fashion, and Earley charged through the middle with goal on his mind, but was blocked by Davy Harte. Doyle managed to narrow the gap with his third score of the contest.
Tyrone struggled to regain their early momentum, but a neat exchange between PJ Quinn and Tommy McGuigan sent Raymond Mulgrew through for a score that restored the two-point cushion.
It was a rearguard action, though, for much of the third quarter for Tyrone, who needed heroic blocks from Gormley to preserve their lead, with Kildare wides making a significant contribution to the status quo.
A scoreless period of 21 minutes came to an end when substitute Damien McCaul slipped a pass to Tommy McGuigan, who split the posts in style. However, the game reached a sensational conclusion, when substitute Alan Smith crossed from the right for Mullarkey to punch to the net past John Devine.
Scorers -- Tyrone: C McCullagh 0-3 (2f), R Mulgrew, T McGuigan, K Hughes, E McGinley 0-1 each. Kildare: P Mullarkey 1-1, J Doyle 0-3 (1f, 1 '45)
Tyrone: J Devine; PJ Quinn, C Gormley, M Swift; D Harte, D Carlin, P Jordan; K Hughes, E McGinley; C Cavanagh, R Mulgrew, R Mellon; C McCullagh, T McGuigan, S O'Neill. Subs: O Mulligan for Mellon (53), D McCaul for Quinn (61), N Gormley for Cavanagh (63)
Kildare: T Corley; E Bolton, A McLoughlin, M O'Flaherty; A Rainbow, K O'Neill, G White;
P Mullarkey, K Brennan; J Doyle, M Conway, J Kavanagh; R Sweeney, D Earley, K Donnelly. Subs: A Smith for Sweeney (53), D Flynn for Donnelly (60)
Referee: V Neary (Mayo)