Kerry navigate past tricky Tyrone test

Kerry v Tyrone AISF 2015

And then there were three. Whoever wins next Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final between ourselves and Dublin will have to face defending champions Kerry in next month’s decider. Kerry didn’t have things all their own way at a rain-soaked Croke Park this afternoon but they showed plenty of guts and determination to fend off Tyrone’s late burst and grab the late scores they needed to book their place in the final.

I’m not sure how bad the conditions looked on TV but in the flesh, even from our vantage position up in the back row of the Upper Cusack, it appeared that the going underfoot down on the pitch was somewhere between tricky and treacherous. The atrocious weather meant that there was more loose ball flying around – due to all the slipping and sliding – than you’d normally expect to see in an All-Ireland semi-final but it probably made for a more compelling contest and, almost certainly, a closer finish than would otherwise have been the case.

In my facetheball prediction, I put Kerry down for a four-point win (I’ve pulled a bit further ahead in the mini-league because of this) but I didn’t make my prediction until last night, by which time today’s forecast for day-long rain was pretty much a certainty to happen, figuring that the rain would give Tyrone a better chance of staying with Kerry. I think that was a factor today, though Kerry’s overly cautious approach – with their slow, laboured build-up and their inability to punch holes in Tyrone’s deep-lying defence – was surely a significant reason why Tyrone went in at the break only a point in arrears.

Mickey Harte’s men looked to have more purpose about them at that stage. They started well, scoring the game’s first two points, and they should have done better with an early goal chance too, with their strong running through the middle exposing the champions’ backline.

Kerry’s loss of Marc Ó Sé to a deserved black card (I really thought Maurice Deegan would bottle that decision but in fairness he didn’t), following which Morgan hoisted over a monster of a free-kick, could have rattled them but having a sub of Fionn Fitzgerald’s calibre to bring on meant that he wasn’t really missed.

Ó Sé wasn’t the only elder statesman who struggled on the heavy surface today. Donaghy never really got going at all, his main (and final) contribution the half’s final score which sent Kerry in a point to the good, and Gooch was a total bystander in that first half, though he did exert more influence on proceedings after the break. Tyrone’s senior citizen, Sean Cavanagh, also had one of the least productive seventy minutes he’s ever put in at HQ.

Tyrone got to the half-way stage of the contest having adopted an approach of ceding almost two-thirds of the pitch to Kerry for large stretches of the first half, relying on swift breakouts and efficiency in their shooting to keep them in the hunt. It was always an unlikely strategy to win the game and the question was what would they try to do differently after the break.

It was Kerry, though, who showed a bit more enterprise after the restart. They pushed up higher on Tyrone’s kickouts and when Morgan’s restarts began to go awry – Tyrone lost something like four or five kickouts in a row – Kerry were able to punish them on the scoreboard, at last opening up a bit of daylight between the sides. The gap stretched to five with fifteen minutes left on the clock.

Kerry were, though, riding their luck a bit at this stage. Mark Bradley was probably a bit too far out when he shot for goal, Brendan Kealy parrying his effort away, while Tiernan McCann came close to goaling as well. The Kingdom also had Maurice Deegan to thank for two bad decisions, when he first incorrectly black-carded Tyrone’s Ronan McNamee and then failed to dole out the same punishment to Kerry’s serial fouler Shane Enright.

Four points down with ten minutes to go (two too many to be in arrears at that stage, according to the O’Neill County man sitting beside me in the Upper Cusack) Tyrone at last made their move. Barry Tierney burst into the square and hit the deck fairly theatrically, Deegan predictably buying the dive and spreading his arms wide for the penalty. Peter Harte buried it and when Bradley swung over the equaliser soon after it looked as if Tyrone now had the momentum to carry them over the line.

Instead, a point from Anthony Maher – from a super ball in over the cover – restored Kerry’s lead but the next Tyrone attack should have yielded them a second penalty. They had a far stronger shout for this one, with Aidan O’Mahony wrapping his arms around McNulty and dragging him to the floor but not only did Deegan fail to award the spot-kick, he booked the Tyrone sub for diving. The Tyrone lads were well hacked off at this but they did recognise that neither penalty decision had been correct.

With Tyrone still chasing the game, that left them open at the other end. Kerry’s bench – in the form of Geaney and Keane – were given the time and space to get the vital scores, enabling the Kingdom to close out a deserved four-point win.

So, once again, Kerry can plan for September. While today’s performance wasn’t the kind of display to leave either ourselves or Dublin quaking, it was more than enough to secure the result they came to Croke Park for today. Kerry will be better in the final – as they invariably are – and, on today’s evidence, they’re a more formidable team than they were twelve months ago. Whoever wins through next weekend will, for sure, have their hands full in next month’s decider.

42 thoughts on “Kerry navigate past tricky Tyrone test

  1. It would appear Joe Brolly owes a serious apology to Maurice Deegan.Will he be man enough to give it?

  2. Jaysus there was an awkward moment when Des asked Mcguigan about Tyrone fans feeling agreived by the critisism by the media of Tyrone. I cringed for Mcguigan and yet it’s supposed to be us who the whingers are .:)

  3. Fair result. Tyrone will come on next year though. Could be real force again over next few years. Think they will replace donegal as ulsters premier contenders.

    Interestingly for Kerry one of their big problems is picking their strongest team. Nice problem to have some might say but not so sure I’d agree….but fitzmaurice seems pretty shrewd…or lucky….he was 5 mins from not giving a run at all to key man who delivered AI last year.

  4. Gotta think if young McAliskey had made that pass across the goal in the first half for a certain goal that Tyrone would have led at HT and who knows from there. They had every chance of winning that game and that means Dublin or Mayo have too .

  5. – The rain actually helped make this game closer than it should have been and actually more entertaining than I thought possible
    – Kerry had to use one gear higher than they planned
    -Spot on WJ about the wrong colour cards going to MCNamee and Enright. However IMO the worst tackle of the game was McNabbs tackle on Gooch totally dangerous and only a yellow that should have been a straight red.
    – Andy I think has queried what is happening with Tommie Walsh’s. I think you will see Twin Towers re-appear in the final regardless of whether it’s us or the Dubs but especially if it’s us. !!!
    – Now Mayo get those flags up and show support for this great team that represents us ……

  6. I thought the first penalty was clear enough. He was dragged down no question. Interesting to hear Ciaran whelan say “it’s hard to award 2 penalties to the same team” after the game? What the hell does that mean? That you can foul away like crazy once you have conceded one pen, safe in the knowledge the ref won’t give a second?! Anyone remember the last time a team got 2 penos in a big champ match? You guessed it – kerry in Limerick last year. Geaney will surely start the final ahead of donaghy. He was top class today when he came in.

  7. Kerry deserved to win would be nice to get a craic at them in the final by the way anyone else on this think we should warm up on the hill end to rattle the dubs!

  8. Been there done that re the warm up in front of the hill..watched it on you tube y day..MENTAL aul mayo style haka in front of the hill would be hilarious..

  9. if the dubs get through i think they would beat Kerry could put 3-4 goals on that Kerry defence with their running game.

    We’re more than capable of beating them if we got through as we showed last year just would be a case of using whats between our ears a little more and getting a ref without a farcical bias.

  10. So I suppose next Sunday we will find out of our lads has what it takes and redeem ourselves for going out at this stage last year. It’s going to be a mamoth leap. However it is one I can see us achieving. If we can over come the Dubs on Sunday we will then mentally be ready to take Kerry on.Of the three teams that are left there is not much between them. On a given day all of them have the ability to beat one another. IMO whoever wins on Sunday and whoever wins in final will come down to who has got that extra mental edge. For Mayo we need to show this next week it may not have always being there in past but I think through experience of loss and pain we should see this grit and determination against the Dubs. Does anyone think we may play more defensively than we did in last game?

  11. Olive,
    “Now Mayo get those flags up and show support for this great team that represents us”. What do you think we’ve been doing? For years? Not just for an All Ireland semi-final.

  12. No way should we warm up in front of the hill on sunday. Would be a pointless exercise and take the players focus off of the real objective. It worked to an extent in 2006 as we weren’t seen as a serious threat to dublin but this year is a different story. Not a chance will we see it happen next weekend

  13. Willie Joe,
    I’m an avid fan of this site since I stumbled across it few years ago.
    Irregular contributor though I am, I love the cut and thrust of the debate which your platform provides. I’m no stranger to the pen myself, believing it (in most cases) to be mightier than the, well, sword, spade, shovel or slash-hook. I’m also involved with my club at all levels. Currently Chairman. But once again your summary of today’s action in Croke Park (put together in jig time) is so accurate and incisive that I’m at a loss to figure out why you’re not at this full time. The only and obvious answer is that you’re involved in more lucrative pastures.
    Please continue. You’re a great servant of Mayo and Mayo football.

  14. Absolute tragedy tonight for a mayo gaa family with the death ,in a car accident, of one the mayo minor winning team of 2013. What a talenthe

  15. Yes mayomaningalway I for one think we will set up more defensively, a bit like Kerry with kinda two sweepers reading the game.. sitting off midfield, moving in to hold up play if the break goes against us and shutting off corridors, with good communication and a mantra of you shall not pass and no goals (fingers crossed it will work and fustrate Dublin into poor shot selections). Easier said than done with Dublins direct running but if we can keep them to points I definately think there are goals to be got from the Dublin defence. Barry, Sos and Tom P in and around midfield with AOS, Cillian and Freeman as my wild card in the forwards. Could be an ideal game for Freeman.. just a thought

  16. Aw, sourceoftherobe, I agree with you totally. I love this blog (yes, I’ve had a few glasses of red and I love most people when I’ve had a jar) and I’m so looking forward to next week. This time last year I was getting ready for my eldest’s first day at school and trying to get a ticket for a game I was fairly sure we would lose. I ended up getting a ticket for the nally and foolishly thinking there would be “loads” of donegal fans there before throw in. In the end I stood behind the goals waving the green and yellow flag for each and every point despite being completely intimidatated and enthralled by the noise from the hill in my ears and shaking the very ground beneath me. I will never forget, so long as I live, the feeling of walking out of the hallowed grounds of croke park not quite believing what I had just witnessed. I’m being a tad sentimental now but I just have a feeling there’s a wee bit of history in the making this year.

  17. People asking where is Tommy Walsh, mark my words, IF we get past Dublin, he is a certain starter in the final. He’ll either sit infront of Aidan, or play in midfield while David Moran sits infront. Personally i think the Dubs are gunna squeak by us next week, im letting my head type this comment rather than my heart, and just think we are gunna fall short. If “pain and hurt” could win us games then surely we’d have won in 2013. I obviously am praying that im wrong on this one, i was optimistic during the week, but now i have a dirty feeling of a kerry v dub final.

  18. Juan I agree with you all this hype with o Shea could go against Mayo and I think dubs are too strong for Mayo heart says Mayo but will be dub Kerry final????

  19. The Most obvious black card yesterday went completely unpunished when Tyrone had their first goal chance and one of their players was dragged to the ground off the ball in the second minute. Brian mc guitar went to bring it up on the Sunday game but was cut short.
    Anyway I suppose as the game panned out they were going to get SFA from Deegan. For anyone who likes a flutter maybe it’s worth putting a few quid on Deegan for The Rose of Tralee 2016!!!!

  20. Yes it’s true alright. Would know the lad in questions brother.
    Awful awful tragedy.

  21. I didn’t see any problem with the reffing yesterday – thought he did a good job. Have seen refs bottle too many decisions like the one on Marc O’Shea.

    I thought the first penalty was debatable enough and if the second was given it could have been very debatable. The analysis of Carney, whelan and co is really tired – this 2 penalty issue being complete nonsense. The tackling from both teams was fierce – it really is the main differentiator in my view between the top teams and the rest. The relentless tackling and intensity. The conditions probably gave more reward to that intensity than normal too because the ball and feet were more difficult to hold in the face of such challenging.

    Anyone that hasn’t seen Dick Clerkin’s tweet to brolly about the blackcard should have a look…Clerkin is growing on me day by day.

  22. Dark day for his family and friends wouldn’t worry too much about Sunday’s game when you hear news like that it puts it into perspective

  23. Great report WJ

    Kerry did what they had to do and it was a fine professional performance. Even when the penalty went in, I never thought they were in danger of losing

    Tyrone have had a great year, for such a limited footballing squad they really maximise their potential, with great heart, workrate and intensity. They’d put many teams to shame. They have something to build on and no-one will like to meet them next year

    Kerry look a better side to me than 12 months ago also, WJ, and the way they picked off some scores was majestic in such awful conditions. They’ll be very hard beat in the final

    In saying that, they have issues- no doubt about it- and certainly aren’t near the level of the noughties side, though they don’t need to be. Their backline parted like the red sea at times and they scoff up lots of goal chances. O’Mahony should tighten things up though, when he is inevitably recalled

    When Gooch, JOD and Donaghy are kept quiet on the scoreboard they have guys like Geaney, Buckley and O’Brien to chip in with a few each. No-one else in the country has such attacking talent. BJK and DOS made good impacts too off the bench also. Anthony Maher would have been my runner up for MOTM

    They’ll no doubt fancy their chances, Kerry, and their defensive shortcomings are often trumped by their attacking prowess. 4 weeks off now to prepare, ideal for them

    Now over to Sunday

  24. Pebblesneller… I think there are less flags than other years particularly in Westport for e.g. I would just like to see the #seaofredandgreen start in Mayo and continue all the way to Croker !!!

  25. This tragic loss puts everything into sharp focus and it is absolutely heartbreaking. May all those that hurt in the shadow of his life be comforted in time with his commitment to life and his obvious strength of character. RIP

  26. Mort would never make this current team ,nor the James Horan team as he could not tackle and did not want to put in the effort to work , to help out his fellow forwards .He also claims Aian o Shea is not a good full forward, I think there is 10 top class county managers , who would love to have Aidan as their full forward , but sure what would they know .

  27. Yes Kerry were professional in what they did on Sunday…did what they had to do to win…i think at this stage we all know that’s what Kerry are good at…but they are very beatable and do have problems when teams run at them…but before we over analyse Kerry and what is will take to beat them…we must focus on Sunday…

    Personally Id name the same 15 that started against Donegal….possibly leaving the dubs guessing what way we are going to set-up…will B Moran go in front on the full-back etc….for the first 10 mins or so Id leave both B Moran and AOS in the full forward line and try an ask some serious questions early on of the Dub full back line…either player could always drop in and out as the game progressed….by pulling back the half forward line we’d clog up the Dubs running channels and on the winning breaking ball break at pace going forward using the best positioned player…either a half forward or back..doesn’t matter which…as long as we’d leave some cover behind….with the constant option of hitting it long into the two big guys inside…that way even though the Dubs would know our dangerous players going forward they wouldn’t know who is going to break and from where…nothing to say we couldn’t drop a half forward..such as McLaughlin back in front of Caff from time to time to sweep…

  28. “I see the mort is mouthing off to the examiner saying we are not a great team and Dublin will win, blah blah blah”

    Conor predicts a Mayo win, it even says it in the second sentence!!!

    FWIW I agree with a lot of his points.

    I’ve never really seen him as bitter at all, he’s always vocally supported the county since he left, and he pretty much always predicts Mayo to win the big matches. The guy gets such flak within the county it’s ridiculous. He’s entitled to write what he wants, we’d all love a handy few quid for simply providing our own opinion over writing, fair play to him

  29. Mayomanindublin; firstly, nowhere in that article did the Mort state that Mayo are not a great team. Secondly, he did not say that Dublin will win but actually predicted that Mayo would win.

    Mayo/Meath man; the Mort did not state that A O’S is not a good full forward. He said that he played alongside him at full-forward (a few years ago) and he wasn’t a great full-forward at that time and that he thinks A O’S is a better midfielder. He then went on to say that he’s a great player to be playing alongside now.

    Did you guys actually read that Mort article or just imagine what you wished the Mort had said based on your own impressions of the guy? You’d both do a great job working for the tabloids, pulling pieces from articles written by other journalists and then twisting them around to make a controversial story. As mayomanindublin said, “it’s amazing to read”….

  30. I think people should read what he says not bits of it in relation to Conor.That would be fair.

  31. he contradicts himself about 3 times in that small piece.
    I have always stuck up for him as a player but as a pundit i don’t think much of him from his appearances on the face the ball podcast and his interviews.

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