All Ireland SFC: Kerry cruise to emphatic victory
All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final
Kerry 2-18 Tyrone 0-12
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Want to know the really scary thing about this double scores All-Ireland quarter-final win for Kerry? They probably still have more in the tank.
That was the impression the Sam Maguire Cup holders left us with as they cruised up through the gears in second-half and sped to a landmark win over their old rivals, securing their semi-final place with surprising ease.
No-one was too sure about Kerry's All-Ireland credentials beforehand, with a loss to Mayo in the group stage and a none too convincing defeat of Cork, but routing the 2021 winners amounted to a significant statement of intent.
That they laid waste to their old rivals' Championship's hopes, gaining a little bit of revenge for the 2021 semi-final defeat in the process, will have pleased the Kingdom faithful no end.
The Munster champions were terrific in the second-half, outscoring Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-6, and while Paudie Clifford was sent off for two bookings in stoppage time along with his marker Conor Meyler, it will go down as a minor blip.
Sean O'Shea and Diarmuid O'Connor fired the second-half goals for Kerry and finished with 2-7 between them. David Clifford weighed in with five points but just to underline how much they still have to improve, the Kerry talisman and captain left seven scoring opportunities behind him.
Kerry approached the quarter-finalists as the highest scoring team in the round robin stage from the eight teams left in the Championship, averaging out at 24.3 points per match.
Tyrone, meanwhile, fired just 16.25 points per game in their group and the quarter-final encounter followed that pattern with Kerry hitting the interval three clear, 0-9 to 0-6.
All week, the talk in both counties was of the potential matchups and it turned out to be as follows; Jason Foley on Darren McCurry and Tom O'Sullivan on Darragh Canavan. Mattie Donnelly wore number 14 and was picked up by Graham O'Sullivan but that individual battle played out mainly around the middle third. Kerry half-back Paul Murphy did his best to keep tabs on Ruairi Canavan.
Tyrone dropped Meyler, wearing number 10, back into their defence to pick up Paudie Clifford and they operated with Michael O'Neill as an extra defender. That left Tadgh Morley as Kerry's spare defender.
David Clifford was marked by Tyrone captain Padraig Hampsey, Ronan McNamee was assigned to track Paul Geaney while Michael McKernan picked up Sean O'Shea.
The two Clifford brothers found themselves in the wars; David getting up close and personal with Hampsey early on and Paudie enduring a running battle with Meyler.
In scoring terms, Kerry led for the majority of the first-half and even though David Clifford fired two wides and dropped two point attempts short, he still sniped three points in that half.
Paudie got away from his man for a score too while O'Sullivan dropped another over on the stiff breeze at the Davin End.
Tyrone got it back to level terms on a couple of occasions at 0-5 and 0-6 apiece but a strong finish to the first half from Kerry yielded scores from David Clifford and O'Connor and that three-point interval lead.
They stretched the margin to five after the restart following pointed frees from David Clifford and O'Shea. Adrian Spillane blasted over his second of the game from close range in the 42nd minute and suddenly Kerry had doubled their advantage to a six-point lead, 0-12 to 0-6.
There was a turning point of sorts shortly after when a Tyrone goal chance from a quick free to the unmarked O'Neill came to nought and Kerry went down the other end and engineered another point for O'Shea.
Kerry almost pinched a goal in the 46th minute themselves when Geaney blasted a shot at Niall Morgan but they settled for an O'Shea point from the resulting '45, leaving them eight points ahead and virtually in the clear.
O'Connor put the outcome beyond doubt when he fired their 54th minute goal following great work in the buildup by substitute Tony Brosnan, amounting to a 1-5 scoring blitz from the Kingdom.
Brosnan had a hand in Kerry's second goal too which was dispatched by O'Shea though the lasting memory was David Clifford's sumptuous volleyed pass in the buildup from the left sideline, just as he looked set to be crunched by two Tyrone defenders.
Cathal McShane fired two points from the bench for Tyrone but they were in no position to rescue the game which petered to an inevitable conclusion.
Scorers for Kerry: Sean O'Shea 1-5 (2fs), Diarmuid O'Connor 1-2, David Clifford 0-5 (0-3f, 0-1m), Adrian Spillane 0-2, Paul Geaney 0-1, Paudie Clifford 0-1, Tom O'Sullivan 0-1, Stephen O'Brien 0-1
Scorers for Tyrone: Darren McCurry 0-4 (4fs), Darragh Canavan 0-2, Ruairi Canavan 0-2, Cathal McShane 0-2, Michael McKernan 0-1, Mattie Donnelly 0-1.
Kerry: Shane Ryan; Graham O'Sullivan, Jason Foley, Tom O'Sullivan; Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy, Gavin White; Diarmuid O'Connor, Jack Barry; Dara Moynihan, Sean O'Shea, Adrian Spillane; Paudie Clifford, David Clifford, Paul Geaney.
Subs: Stephen O'Brien for Spillane 51, Tony Brosnan for Geaney 51, Brian O Beaglaoich for White 58, Micheal Burns for Moynihan 59, Mike Breen for Foley 64.
Tyrone: Niall Morgan; Ronan McNamee, Padraig Hampsey, Conor Meyler; Michael O'Neill; Peter Harte, Michael McKernan, Cormac Quinn; Brian Kennedy, Conn Kilpatrick; Mattie Donnelly, Ruairi Canavan, Kieran McGeary; Darragh Canavan, Darren McCurry.
Subs: Frank Burns for Quinn 34, Cathal McShane for R Canavan 45, Joe Oguz for McGeary 45, Sean O'Donnell for Donnelly 64, Aidan Clarke for Hampsey 67.
Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).