herald

Saturday 25 October 2014

Tyrone power to win

HAD you not seen the game, it might have been difficult to guess from the post-match demeanours of the managers what the final result was. In the end, you would probably have plumped for a draw.

Both Mickey Harte and Kieran McGeeney were reasonably happy with what they had seen from their charges, and with the fact that they were both assured of a place in the league semi-finals.

Tyrone's first-half excellence founded on youth and the experience of the sublime Stephen O'Neill and Seán Cavanagh earned them the day's honours but Harte wasn't ultra-enthusiastic about the overall performance.

Kildare turned over a lot of ball in that opening period and were dreadful in the scoring zone (15 wides and eight shots dropped short to Tyrone's seven and two).

Yet McGeeney found plenty of consolation in the improvement in possession and the contribution of two young substitutes, Paul Cribbin and Seán Hurley - both members of this year's Kildare U21 team who are currently preparing for their upcoming Leinster U-21 final against Longford.

"It's good to play competitive matches at a high level," said Harte.

"It's another target reached and it's great to be there (league semi-final) . It is all good experience and it is good to know our league campaign won't end on the seventh game; that we'll have an eighth game that will bring us closer to the championship and gives us a high level of competitive football that can only be good for the players involved.

"We were quite good in parts of the game and in other parts Kildare really took over.

"I think they were very wayward with their shooting, particularly at the start of the second half ... and I think that cost them ultimately at the end of the game.

"We had a good cushion at half-time and if we couldn't protect that size of a lead then it would have been a very bad second half for us.

"But to protect that lead we had to get some scores and get them against the breeze."

Making the last four of the league's top-flight was "brilliant" according to Lilywhite manager McGeeney.

"Outside the Dublin game we've competed really well, learned different things about who can play well but we'd be trying to get it more settled now.

"(Today) was encouraging from some points of view. Apart from the shooting aspect of it, we tidied it up a lot. Seán (Hurley) and Paul (Cribbin) made a big difference when they came on.

"They were brilliant but it probably shows the way the modern game has gone. You need pace and you need a lot of it. Paul scored three points and he missed three that he should have got."

Overall, he felt that "there were far more positives than negatives" and that probably summed up both bosses' attitudes.

Mark Donnelly's eighth minute goal sent the visitors on their way and Stephen O'Neill was also magnificent as Tyrone led by sight points, 1-8 to 0-3 at half-time.

Goalkeeper, Niall Morgan pointed two frees from around the 45-metre line, while the evergreen O'Neill kicked three wonderful points.

Kildare were better after the resumption, with Hurley helping gaining more possession and launching a wonderful point, while former Aussie Rules man Cribbin, who returned home from Collingwood late last year, fired three points in his first senior appearance.

Tyrone only needed to keep the scoreboard ticking over given their interval advantage though and points from Patrick McNiece, Aidan Cassidy and a wonderful effort by Connor McAliskey ensured that they had enough breathing space to be comfortable up to the final whistle.

Next Sunday Kildare travel to Newry to face Down while Tyrone host Kerry in Omagh.

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