Saturday 21 October 2017

Rivals beware, the genie is out of the bottle

Tyrone were lost in the inferno of Kerry's intensity, says Colm O'Rourke

Rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated, said Mark Twain. The same can be said of Kerry, and especially so of the old guard.

Declan O'Sullivan was magnificent, not far behind were Colm Cooper, Paul Galvin and Tomas O Se, while Kieran Donaghy was back with a smile on his face even if put his hands in a few Tyrone faces too.

It was these players though who set the tone for this game; they led from the front and showed that when in the mood and disregarding weight of medals, years and countless battles, they still have few peers.

For about two-thirds of this match it was engrossing even if a million miles removed from traditional Gaelic football. Kerry dominated kickouts in the first half through Sheehan and Maher, and of the younger players, James O'Donoghue was very good with Shane Enright very tidy.

While there was no open warfare in the game it was played in quite a nasty spirit, with Conor Gormley setting the tone by putting the knees into the Gooch on the ground early on. The first half was broken up by a lot of messing, mouthing and mini-wrestling and the inevitable sending off took place in the second half with Brian McGuigan walking the plank. It should have been Gormley earlier and some of the Tyrone players did not go down with any good grace even if a few Kerry players went down very easily under harmless challenges.

With that sort of edge to proceedings somebody was going to see red and McGuigan was only on the pitch when he was off it.

In this game history was turned on its head. Kerry swarmed all over the Tyrone player in possession and forced them to pass crossfield, while Kerry with the ball pushed forward at pace and created plenty of room. Their goal was a reflection of that policy.

The genie is out of the bottle again and there might be a few teams now who wish that Westmeath had turned the screw even further last week. Judging by last night, Kerry are alive and dangerous and their season starts now.

This was a serious football education for many of the Tyrone young players and it is obvious now why Mickey Harte has not brought on too many at the one time. After a promising early season the rebuilding has to take on a new impetus as most of the older players who gave great service to county and country have run their course. It is a tall order for Harte and even his nephew Peter, who looked as if he was the coming star during the league, appeared lost in this inferno.

For Kerry, someone sounded the bugle last night and the fifth cavalry containing all the big names arrived on cue. They have not gone away. Jack O'Connor must have slept well for a change last night.

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