Tyrone showed that they could well be a force to be reckoned with once more in 2012,as a strong second half showing saw the Ulster side prove too good for Kildare at Croke Park on Saturday evening.
The Red Hands had been in excellent form in the McKenna Cup, but Kildare were expected to prove tough opposition and many pundits felt that the Lilywhites may end the Tyrone run of success. However, second half goals from Martin Penrose and Peter Harte were to prove the difference between the teams as the underdogs went on to record a comfortable success. The performances of old hands, Owen Mulligan and Stephen O’Neill will have been particularly pleasing for the management.
Mulligan was a constant threat to the Kildare defence, while O’Neill scored five points and always looked capable of causing problems. Kildare made the better start and led early as scores from Mikey Conway and Padraig O’Neill saw them establish control. Mulligan added to the Tyrone tally but further points from Conway left Kildare ahead by 0-6 to 0-3 at the break.
Tyrone stepped it up a gear after the restart and Martin Penrose had the ball in the net after 41 minutes. When Peter Harte did likewise after 56 minutes the game was as good as over. The Red Hands night was about to get even better as Sean Cavanagh made a late appearance off the bench. The talisman had been expected to miss a number of matches after suffering a pre-season injury but is clearly making a fast recovery
On the evidence of this game, Tyrone now look the team to beat in this division. Micky Harte will be keen to get his side back to the top tier next season and they have now given themselves every chance to do so.
Scorers – Tyrone: Stephen O’Neill 0-5 (2f), M Penrose, P Harte 1-0 each, O Mulligan 0-3 (1f), D McCaul, R O’Neill, Mark Donnelly 0-1 each; Kildare: M Conway 0-6 (4f), P O’Neill, E O’Flaherty (1f, 1 ’45) 0-2 each, J Doyle, P Kelly 0-1 each
Tyrone – P McConnell; A McCrory, C Clarke, PJ Quinn; C McCarron, P Harte, Sean O’Neill; M Murphy, A Cassidy; Mattie Donnelly, P Hughes, M Penrose; O Mulligan, Mark Donnelly, Stephen O’Neill. Subs: D McCaul for Quinn, R O’Neill for Hughes, N McKenna for Cassidy, R McMenamin for Mattie Donnelly
Kildare – S Connolly; P Kelly, C Fitzpatrick, O Lyons; B Flanagan, T O’Neill, E O’Flaherty; D Flynn, R Sweeney; T Moolick, M Conway, P O’Neill; J Kavanagh, T O’Connor, A Smith. Subs: J Doyle for Moolick, H McGrillen for Flanagan, E Callaghan for Smith, M O’Flaherty for Fitzpatrick, R Kelly for Flynn