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kingdom rule Six-shooting Kerry to share League title after hapless Tyrone are taught footballing lesson

Kerry 6-15 Tyrone 1-14

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Paul Geaney of Kerry celebrates with team-mate Dara Moynihan after scoring his second and their side's fifth goal

Paul Geaney of Kerry celebrates with team-mate Dara Moynihan after scoring his second and their side's fifth goal

Paul Geaney of Kerry celebrates with team-mate Dara Moynihan after scoring his second and their side's fifth goal

KERRY have retained the Division 1 league title – but will have to share it on this occasion.

As expected, they kept their unbeaten record this season to overcome the challenge of Tyrone. What was surprising was the ease of their win. They blitzed the visitors with three goals in the first 16 minutes and added another three before the end as the romped by a 17-point win.

With Kerry in action again in the Munster Championship against Clare in two weeks’ time in Killarney, their preparations are more advanced than the visitors who don’t face Cavan in the Ulster quarter-final until July 10. Nonetheless, it was an embarrassing afternoon for Tyrone whose defence was repeatedly ripped open by a rampant Kerry attack.

The visitors showed no intensity and paid the price. Surprisingly, Kerry full-back Jason Foley, rather than his free-scoring forward colleagues, was chosen as Man of the Match. But it will be their forward colleagues who will grab the headlines with Paul Geaney hitting a brace of first-half goals and team captain David Clifford hitting 1-6, including a penalty.

Kerry had won nine of the 13 previous clashes between the counties on Kerry soil. There was one draw while Tyrone’s wins came in 1998 and 2003 when Brian Dooher, current joint manager, played.

It was also the first League semi-final clash between the counties since 1974 which Kerry won, though their subsequent loss to Cork in the Munster final that summer resulted in the arrival of Mick O’Dwyer and a revolution in their fortunes.

Away from Kerry, Tyrone had a better record against them. Apart from defeating them in the 2005 and 2008 All-Ireland finals as well as the 2003 semi-final, they beat them in three of their last four home league clashes, including a one-point win in Edendork in their last clash in 2020.

In the absence of the suspended Tadgh Morley, Jason Foley continued at full-back while Gavin White returned in the absence of team captain Paul Murphy, who was attending a family wedding. Adrian Spillane partnered Diarmuid O’Connor at midfield while Sean O’Shea returned up front.

There was just one change in personnel on the Tyrone team with Liam Rafferty replacing Richard Donnelly. Ronan McNamee had the job of curbing David Clifford, who had scored 5-16 in their three round-robin games.

Tyrone endured a torrid first quarter, conceding three goals and losing Darragh Canavan with a suspected ankle ligament injury. The visitors’ defence was breached after just five minutes when McNamee was caught on the wrong side of Clifford who was put through with a peach of a pass from Dara Moynihan.

Niall Morgan saved his effort, but the referee adjudged that Clifford was pushed by McNamee and the Kerry captain drilled home what was a decidedly soft penalty. Mattie Donnelly levelled the tie and Paudie Clifford missed a goal chance before Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan was caught off his line. His kick-out was intercepted by Gavin Crowley who quickly fed Gavin White and his audacious shot-chip ended up in the empty Tyrone net.

They had scarcely time to gather their wits when Kerry struck for the pick for their first half goals. Sean O’Shea and Clifford twice exchanged passes before the latter unselfishly flicked the ball to Dara Moynihan who finished with aplomb.

Tyrone enjoyed a brief respite before their woeful defence was exposed again this time down the right flank with a slick three man move involving Stephen O’Brien, O’Shea and Paul Geaney culminating in the Dingle man beating Morgan.

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By half time it had turned into a rout with Kerry hitting a fifth goal. Clifford was again the provider, showing terrific peripheral vision to spot Paul Geaney free inside the cover and, showing a timely return to form, bagged his second to leave the home side in control at the break on the scarcely believable score line of 5-6 to 0-7.

And Kerry could have had another four goals and, though it sounds strange, what will probably please Peter Keane most about the first-half performance was the gritty performance of his defence.

Tyrone finally had joy in the 43rd minute when Darren McCurry linked up with the unmarked Tiernan McCann who found the net. But they only managed one other score while Kerry tagged on five more points and ran their bench.

The final quarter was mostly academic, though the industry of David Clifford was apparent in a game where he could have relaxed. In the 56th minute he briefly lost possession but he worked ferociously hard to stop the ball being cleared and managed to fly-kick the ball to Micheal Burns who pointed.

Niall Morgan’s afternoon of woe was completed near the end when he advanced from the goal to contest a high ball along with Ronan McNamee and Kerry substitute Tommy Walsh, but the ball broke free to another Kerry substitute, Jack Barry, who hit his side’s sixth goal.

Scorers

Kerry: P Geaney 2-0, D Clifford 1-6 (1 pen, 4f), G White, D Moynihan, J Barry 1-0 each. S O’Shea 0-3 (1f), M Burns 0-2, C Spillane 0-2 each, M Breen, J Foley 0-1, P O’Shea 0-1 each.

Tyrone:Tyrone: T McCann 1-0, D McCurry (1f), K McGeary (0-3) each P Harte, M Bradley, M Donnelly, P Donaghy (1f), N Sludden, R Brennan, R Donnelly, R O’Neill 0-1 each.

Kerry: K Fitzgibbon, Brian O Beaglaoich, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; M Breen, G Crowley, G White; D O’Connor, A Spillane; S O’Brien, S O’Shea, P Geaney; D Clifford, D Moynihan, P Clifford.

Subs: J O’Connor for P Clifford (blood)(35 +3); T Walsh for P Clifford (43), M Burns for Geaney (43), C Spillane for O’Brien (50), J Barry for O’Shea (54), J O’Connor for Moynihan (60), J Sherood for White (60), P O’Shea for A Spillane (64), G O’Sullivan for Breen (73).

Tyrone: N Morgan; M McKernan, P Hampsey, R McNamee, C Munroe, C Meyler, P Harte; M Donnelly, F Burns; K McGeary, D Canavan, L Rafferty; D McCurry, C McKenna, P Donaghy.

Subs: M Bradley for Canavan (inj) (8), T McCann for Monroe (26), R O’Neill for Donaghy ht; D Donnelly for Burns ht, R Brennan for McKernan (45), M Sludden for Raftery (45), C Kilpatrick for McNamee (68)

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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