A strong second half performance saw Kerry come from four points down to beat Tyrone by 1-18 to 0-18 at Croke Park this afternoon.
A poor crowd of 33,848 turned out to watch a game that never really took off, but that will matter little to Kerry who go forward to meet Dublin in the All-Ireland SFC final.
Kerry had outstanding performances from Stephen O’Brien, Paul Geaney and David Clifford, but their substitutions made a huge difference as Jack Sherwood and Tommy Walsh made immense contributions when introduced.
The only drawback was a black card for O’Brien who has already received two black cards in the last year and may miss the All-Ireland final. The Kenmare forward was man of the match this afternoon and ultimately it was his 56th minute goal that decided the game.
This was the proverbial game of two halves as Tyrone dominated the opening period and got their match ups spot on, leaving many feeling that Kerry were out of this game at the break.
However, the introduction of Sherwood at half time and the switch of Tadgh Morley onto the impressive Cathal McShane had a telling impact on the game.
Then when Walsh was brought on, the former Aussie Rules players made a big impact winning frees and setting up scores as Kerry grew in confidence as the second half wore on.
Tyrone were very impressive throughout the opening half as they looked assured and confident on the ball, while Kerry were nervy, certainly as they failed to score from the 19th minute until half time.
The Ulster side targeted David Moran and he is sure to be black and blue after this game as he was pulled and dragged all over the place, but the fact of the matter, he was put off his game and that was the aim of the Tyrone players.
Still though, there was only four points in it at the break and Kerry had played nowhere near their best. The Kingdom in fact looked naïve and inexperienced at times; making the wrong decision when in good positions on numerous occasions.
Kerry's Sean O'Shea looks for a way through against Ronan McNamee and Peter Harte of Tyrone
Indeed, the poor attendance at the game will probably get as much headlines as the match itself as the game never really reached the heights that many felt it would.
It took three minutes for us to get the opening score of the game and it was a well worked Tyrone move that saw Michael McKernan get into space to slot over the first score.
Tyrone were winning the midfield battle from early on, but two minutes later Kerry were level when David Clifford slotted over a close range free.
Still though, it was evident that Tyrone were using the possession more wisely and the impressive McShane opened his account in the sixth minute.
From the Kerry kick out, Tyrone won the ball and worked it in to Mattie Donnelly who pointed off his trusty left boot. A Sean O’Shea free made it 0-03 to 0-02 after nine minutes.
Niall Morgan then gave a way a ball straight to Paul Geaney who sent the ball over the bar in return, but the Tyrone goalkeeper made amends two minutes later when slotting over a ’45.
The score of the opening half came in the 14th minute when Clifford scored from distance and at this stage, it looked as if both sides were evenly matched.
However, points from Niall Sludden and McShane saw them go two clear and O’Shea’s converted ’45 was their last score of the half which came with 16 minutes remaining.
Tyrone were slowly tightening their grip on the game and every turnover was greeted with a lot of fist pumping from their players.
McShane made it 0-07 to 0-05 by the 22nd minute, but there were just two more scores for the remainder of the half as Mattie Donnelly got his second before Sludden did likewise in the 35th minute, 0-09 to 0-05 at the break.
Kerry came out a different side in the second half as O’Shea (free) and Geaney got them off the mark before McShane pointed a free at the other end.
This was the start of four converted frees two each for the Tyrone forward and O’Shea before Sherwood came forward and drilled over an excellent score off the outside of the left boot.
With his first touch after coming on, Conor McAliskey sent over a fine point for Tyrone in the 53rd minute. Kerry responded with a well taken point by David Moran who was growing ins stature as the game wore on.
Clifford was always a threat and he added another score, a minute before the only goal of the game when Geaney fed O’Brien and he coolly slotted past Morgan.
A contender for Footballer of the Year, O’Brien added a point soon after as Kerry went four points clear. Morgan converted his second ’45 in the 59th minute to leave a goal between the teams.
O’Shea (free) and Clifford hit two unanswered point, but Tyrone hit back with a brace through McShane and Richie Donnelly as we entered six minutes of added time.
Geaney made is a four-point game again with a well taken score. Sub Darren McCurry pulled one back for Tyrone then O’Brien, McShane (free), Clifford and Peter Harte (free) closed out the scoring.
Kerry - S Ryan; J Foley, T Morley, T O'Sullivan; P Murphy, G Crowley, S Enright; D Moran (0-1), A Spillane; B O Beaglaoich, S O’Shea (0-6, 5f, 1'45), S O’Brien (1-2); D Clifford (0-5, 1f), P Geaney (0-3), K Spillane. Subs: G White for S Enright, J Sherwood (0-1) for A Spillane, T Walsh for J Foley, D Moynihan for K Spillane, J Lyne for G Crowley, J Barry for T O’Sullivan.
Tyrone - N Morgan (0-2'45); M Cassidy, R McNamee, R Brennan; M McKernan (0-1), F Burns, K McGeary; C Cavanagh, R Donnelly (0-1); M Donnelly (0-2), N Sludden (0-2), P Harte (0-1f); P Hampsey, C McShane (0-7, 3f), C Meyler. Subs: C McAliskey (0-1) for N Sludden, T McCann for K McGeary, D McCurry (0-1) for M Cassidy, B Kennedy for C Cavanagh.
Referee - M Deegan.Tweet