Friday 23 August 2019

Cian O'Neill to reflect on future as Kildare flop to Tyrone

Tyrone 2-22 Kildare 1-15

Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly attempts to get away from Chris Healy. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly attempts to get away from Chris Healy. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Cian O'Neill won't be rushed into any decision on his future as Kildare boss after his fourth year at the helm ended in disappointment with a ten-point All-Ireland SFC Qualifier Round 3 defeat to Tyrone in Newbridge last night.

The Lilies were always chasing a slick Red Hand side after Michael Cassidy's seventh-minute goal and Mick O'Grady's 50th-minute dismissal sealed their fate as the visitors kicked on in good style.

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Tyrone's Niall Sludden challenges Kildare's Fergal Conway. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone's Niall Sludden challenges Kildare's Fergal Conway. Photo: Sportsfile

O'Neill insists his mind was solely on preparing for the next round of the qualifiers and he will take some time to reflect on things before making any calls on his future. "It would be different if they got whitewashed there, but they got going," he said of Kildare's spirited effort. "My mind was set on a recovery session tomorrow morning and planning for next week.

"That's how you need to plan. The guys, although they'll be devastated with the defeat, they died with their boots on, and never stopped trying to play.

"You just want to spend a bit of time with them, the management in the backroom who have all been phenomenal this year and the last few years. That's really where my head is at."

As for last year's All-Ireland finalists, Mickey Harte's Tyrone are one step away from the Super 8s having shot 2-17 from play in an accomplished display.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile

"Now we're only one game away from the last eight, and that's very important," Harte said. "We now just have to forget about that game, look at who we get on Monday and prepare as diligently for them. If we can produce a performance like that, we'll take a bit of beating."

Harte expects to have more first-team regulars back for next weekend where a tie against a beaten provincial finalist awaits.

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"I don't know about Michael Cassidy, I don't know what the injury was that made him come off but it will be a pity if he's injured and not fit to play. But Paudie Hampsey is a week nearer to being available again and Richie Donnelly too, and that will give us more strength, whether they start or are on the bench."

Last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists were at their efficient best with Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte controlling affairs. The Red Hand gave away little at the back and attacked in waves with their pace causing Kildare trouble.

A date with either Galway, Cavan, Cork or Meath awaits Tyrone in the next round and they will fancy their chances having recovered in style from their Ulster semi-final defeat to Donegal.

Tyrone jumped out of the blocks with Harte opening the scoring from a free.

Roving defender Michael Cassidy fired to the net in the seventh minute after a sweeping move involving Kieran McGeary, Cathal McShane and Niall Sludden.

Harte sent over a rare effort from his right peg before the Lilies finally got off the mark in the 12th minute with Neil Flynn hitting a nice point from distance.

That was a feature of the half as Kildare were forced to be patient and shoot from range while Tyrone were breaking the Kildare defensive line with greater ease as Rory Brennan and Colm Cavanagh surged forward on the overlap to leave them 1-4 to 0-1 ahead at the end of the first quarter.

Tyrone dominated in the middle of the park - with a high press forcing Mark Donnellan to go long - but the home side gradually found their feet as Fergal Conway and Tyrone skipper Donnelly traded points. Flynn fired over a free at the other end but Tyrone were keeping them at arm's length with Darren McCurry sending over a point.

But the complexion of the game would change soon after. O'Neill was sent to the stands - he refused to leave and loitered at the gate to the stand - after arguing his case with an umpire over a dubious '45 and the incident seemed to give his side some energy.

Conway swapped points with Frank Burns before Kildare finally made a breakthrough at the other end. Conway looked like he was going to be pulled for over-carrying and Tyrone switched off

That split second of hesitation allowed the inspirational Conway to thread a pass to Keith Cribbin and the Johnstownbridge attacker fed Kevin Feely, who buried into the net past Niall Morgan.

When Adam Tyrrell fired over his first of the day from a free, all of a sudden it was a two-point game. While the visitors would kick two of the last three points of the half through Harte (free) and McCurry, Kildare were well in it, trailing by three at the break despite being dominated for large spells, 1-9 to 1-6.

Kildare couldn't get to grips with Tyrone's running game on the resumption as Donnelly was causing all sorts of trouble with his ability to break the tackle and create overlaps and they hit four of the first five points.

Burns, McShane, Donnelly and Harte were on the mark with a long-range free from Tyrrell the sole Kildare response.

Were it not for two quick-fire points Feely, Tyrone could have been out of sight but he helped Kildare cling to their coat tails. Their job was made all the more difficult when O'Grady was given his marching orders in the 50th minute for a second yellow card, however, and it was a blow they simply couldn't overcome as Donnelly and Harte ran the show.

Harte fired four second-half points from play and when McCurry palmed to the net in the 63rd minute, it left Tyrone coasting into Round 4 of the Qualifiers.

Scorers - Tyrone: P Harte 0-7 (3f), C McShane 0-5 (2f), D McCurry 1-2, M Cassidy 1-0, M Donnelly 0-3, F Burns 0-2, C Cavanagh, R Brennan, C McAliskey 0-1 each.

Kildare: K Feely 1-2, A Tyrrell 0-5 (4f), F Conway, N Flynn (2f) 0-3 each, T Moolick, P Kelly 0-1 each.

Tyrone - N Morgan; HP McGeary, R McNamee, R Brennan; M Cassidy, K McGeary, F Burns; C Cavanagh, B Kennedy; M Donnelly, N Sludden, C Meyler; P Harte, C McShane, D McCurry. Subs: B McDonnell for Kennedy (22 bc), M McKernan for K McGeary (55), C McAliskey for Sludden (60), K Coney for McCurry (66), C McLaughlin for HP McGeary (71), A McCrory for Cassidy (72)

Kildare - M Donnellan; M Dempsey, M O'Grady, P Kelly; C O'Donoghue, E Doyle, D Hyland; K Feely, F Conway; D Slatter, C Healy, K Cribbin; A Tyrrell, B McCormack, N Flynn.

Subs: J Hyland for McCormack (11), E O'Flaherty for O'Donoghue (11 blood), O'Donoghue for O'Flaherty (12),T Moolick for Cribbin (49), M Barrett for Healy (52), O'Flaherty for Slattery, K O'Callaghan for Flynn (65), C McNally for Hyland (68).

Referee - P Neilan (Roscommon)

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