We’re getting used to it at this stage. It’s now 16 years and counting since Tyrone went to Killarney and beat Kerry in the National League.
New Kerry manager Peter Keane had been plotting and planning Sunday’s win for weeks.
The Kingdom opted out of the McGrath Cup this year. They chose instead to work hard and wait in the long grass for Tyrone.
The Red Hands walked straight into Kerry’s new defensive trap and it was 50 minutes before they hit a point from play.
Two scores from play over 70 minutes of football is not going to cut it.
Mickey Harte said afterwards that he was surprised at how defensive Kerry were, but Tyrone have handled more defensive teams than Kerry in the past.
Did they focus on the McKenna Cup at the expense of studying what Kerry might bring to the table?
Kerry had their homework done on Tyrone. If they can build on this new defensive strategy, then they will be extremely hard to beat.
They can get closer to Dublin than anyone else because they’ve got the forwards to do it.
The Kerry wide count was in double digits on Sunday, but Peter Keane won’t care. They are creating chances and that’s all that matters.
Stronger Inside Forwards Needed
Tyrone rarely troubled Kerry’s defence and that’s extremely worrying.
David Mulgrew isn’t an option at full forward, he’s a brilliant ball carrier coming from deep. When Peter Harte went inside to help him out he couldn’t make the ball stick.
Niall Sludden looked lost out on the wing and was called to the sideline. He’s not comfortable there and he’s a much better footballer at center forward.
Last year Tyrone relied heavily on Connor McAliskey and Richard Donnelly to win ball in the final third. Both men are recovering from injury and they are needed back quickly.
Mickey brought on Darragh Canavan towards the end, but it wasn’t a game that Darragh was going to make an impact on. He might have been better tucked away for another day.
At the other end of the field, Liam Rafferty made a nervous League debut at corner back and was replaced shortly after half time. Getting the hook that soon after the break won’t help his confidence.
The only real positive from the game was Kyle Coney.
He brought plenty of accuracy in his passing when he came on as a second-half substitute. It would be good to see a bit more of him on Sunday against Mayo.
Sweeper Keeper Experiment Must End
Mickey Harte said after the game that Tyrone were unlucky to be beaten by four points. Truth is it should have been more.
The experiment of playing Niall Morgan as a sweeper keeper needs to end quickly.
If Stephen O’Brien had shown a little more composure in front of the goals in the first half Kerry would have been seven up at the break. All he had to do was to dink the ball over Morgan’s head and the goal was there for Kerry. Niall’s free-taking wasn’t up to scratch either.
Darren McCurry and Peter Harte provide much better free taking options.
Niall’s a good keeper and his kickouts have really improved in the McKenna Cup. Let’s see him operating as a goalkeeper and just that!