Tuesday 18 December 2018

Harte: It is nice to put record straight with win over Kerry

Tyrone 1-16 Kerry 0-14

Mickey Harte enjoying yesterday’s win with his assistant Gavin Devlin and selector Stephen O'Neill. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Mickey Harte enjoying yesterday’s win with his assistant Gavin Devlin and selector Stephen O'Neill. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Declan Bogue

There might not have been much in it with league survival assured for both and no chance of reaching a league final, but Mickey Harte was quick to note that it had been said to him with regularity that Tyrone had not beaten Kerry in a long number of years before this encounter.

Eight years in fact, since a repeated failure of Kerry's to clear the ball over the lines and finish the game, as per the rule of the 2010 season, let Colm Cavanagh nab a last-second goal in that Saturday-night tussle.

There are few survivors from that game on either side but if there is a marker to lay down, Tyrone wouldn't shy away from it.

This win puts a gloss on a season that was looking rough after they lost three of their opening four games to Galway, Dublin and Monaghan.

Handsome

It also gives them a handsome-looking tally of 5-43 from the last three games against Donegal, Mayo and Kerry.

Kerry's Killian Spillane up against Declan McClure of Tyrone. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Kerry's Killian Spillane up against Declan McClure of Tyrone. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Still, the narrative will hardly alter from Tyrone being labelled as overly-defensive.

"I suppose it was a bit of role-reversal from last year when we started strong and finished poorly," said Harte after Declan McClure's second-half goal three minutes from time opened up a seven-point gap that rewarded Tyrone for their industry.

"I suppose that's not a bad thing to be able to turn it around. After four games we only had two points and it was dicey-looking,"

It punished a Kerry side shorn of many nailed-on championship starters, who went 26 minutes without registering a score in the second half.

Lee Brennan and Jason Foley battle for possession. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Lee Brennan and Jason Foley battle for possession. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Harte added: "The Donegal win was so important, Mayo was excellent and I suppose a lot of people were telling us it was a long time since we beat Kerry and I suppose it is nice to put the record straight any day of the week. I am very pleased with the outcome."

His opposite number, Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, betrayed the look of a man who was free from all the cares of the world afterwards, but wasn't sparing the rod when he stated: "We got the first point of the second half but then we, I don't know, were a small bit rudderless at times and I think Tyrone played very well.

"We were a bit lucky not to be beaten by more, to be honest. There is plenty there for us to be working on."

The Kingdom have the time and the talent. Of the successful minor teams of recent years, Jason Foley has emerged as a fine full-back and limited Lee Brennan to one point from play while Tom O'Sullivan kept Ronan O'Neill starved of ball.

Lee Brennan is wiped out by Kerry's Mark Griffin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Lee Brennan is wiped out by Kerry's Mark Griffin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

With little at stake though, the exchanges were of a challenge-match nature.

As the first half wore on however, as Fitzmaurice said, the Kerry shape became a little baggy.

Ronan McNabb exchanged a give-and-go with Frank Burns and had a sight on goal but his shot wasn't caught with any purchase and Tom O'Sullivan took it away.

In the next minute, Cathal McShane - excellent throughout - took a sideline ball off Peter Harte, dashed 40 metres and broke a tackle or two before drilling a shot that flew over the crossbar.

Further points from Kieran McGeary and two from the dead ball from goalkeeper Niall Morgan and Lee Brennan swiped the lead for Tyrone at half-time, 0-10 to 0-9.

Tyrone's Cathal McShane lines up a shot under pressure from Cormac Coffey. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Tyrone's Cathal McShane lines up a shot under pressure from Cormac Coffey. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The second half started in tit-for-tat fashion until Tyrone compiled 1-4 without reply to streak ahead and rid themselves of an ugly stat.

Ahead of the championship, Harte still refuses to give credence to those that insist he and his side are over-burdened by their devotion to defence.

"When I reflect on last year, I believe we were getting plenty of scores, particularly when the summer time came. We were getting lots of high scores and not conceding a lot," he explained.

And with that, Harte sent his players back off for a busy April with their clubs, having secured a weekend away for the county team with club league games to be staged on that Friday night.

Winners

Kerry meet the winners of Clare and Limerick on June 2, but Fitzmaurice revealed they have no intention to undergo their tradition Portugal pre-championship tuning-up week.

"In other years we'd always have county championship two weeks out from Munster when we needed it whereas we might have a window for one later this time," he said.

"They're massively useful exercises but we're not doing one between league and championship this year."

Scorers - Tyrone: L Brennan 0-5 (4f); D McClure 1-1; C McShane, R O'Neill (3f) 0-3 each; N Morgan (1f), C McCann, M Donnelly, K McGeary 0-1 each. Kerry: K Spillane 0-5 (5f); J Buckley, S O'Brien 0-2 each; C Coffey, M Geaney, M Burns, D Casey, M Flaherty 0-1 each.

Tyrone - N Morgan 7; C McCarron 7, R McNamee 7, A McCrory 5; R McNabb 6, F Burns 8, R Brennan 7; C McCann 7, D McClure 7; M Donnelly 7, P Harte 6, K McGeary 6; L Brennan 8, C McShane 8, R O'Neill 7. Subs: D Mulgrew 6 for McGeary (53), C Meyler for McCann (55), P Hampsey for McCrory (58-63 blood sub), C McAliskey for Meyler (62), M McKernan for Hampsey (63), B McDonnell for O'Neill (68), B Burns for F Burns (70).

Kerry - B Kelly 6; B O'Beaglaoich 7, J Foley 6, T O'Sullivan 7; C Coffey 8, M Griffin 6, M Geaney 7; J Barry 6, D Moran 6; M Burns 6, D Casey 7, K McCarthy 6; K Spillane 7, J Buckley 7, S O'Brien 8.

Subs: E O'Conchuir 6 for Burns (h-t), T Morley 6 for Geaney (h-t), B O'Sullivan for Casey (58), M Flaherty for Buckley (67), G Horan for Moran (67).

Ref - MDeegan (Laois).

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