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'Easy to watch' Tyrone will be very tough to beat after convincing Kildare victory: Mickey Harte

Kildare 1-15 Tyrone 2-22

Man on: Kildare’s Chris Healy attempts to steal possession from Tyrone ace Matthew Donnelly
Man on: Kildare’s Chris Healy attempts to steal possession from Tyrone ace Matthew Donnelly
Mickey Harte
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

If anyone was surprised by the events in Newbridge on Saturday, then they don't pay close attention to Gaelic football.

Kildare have beaten Tyrone only once in their last 11 meetings, a late smash and grab in a Division Two final several years ago.

The Lilywhites had a mediocre season in Division Two and showed against a number of defensively-organised sides that they couldn't break teams down.

With Tyrone reverting to a more familiar counter-attacking system since their Ulster exit, they got their engine humming a little sweeter in this somewhat easy victory, a sixth-minute goal by wandering defender Michael Cassidy followed up by a later palmed effort by Darren McCurry to make sure of their place in Round Four of the qualifiers and staying on track for a Super 8s slot.

While they controlled the flow of the game by getting into a decent early lead, they still had to withstand a couple of Kildare rallies.

Red Hands manager Mickey Harte said: "We have to be pleased. We hit a lot on the scoreboard and didn't win easily.

"We had to win it a few times, and that's credit to Kildare. When we got the early goal and got a decent lead, we thought it would put them on the backfoot for a good while but they fought their way back into the game.

"It was still game on at half-time and when it turned we were playing against the breeze so we knew we had a lot to do. We had that satisfaction of knowing that if we picked off score for score in the second half we would still be ahead at the end of the game.

"So we didn't have to chase the game and when we got a few more points to keep them at arm's length we could control the run of the game."

There were several pleasing aspects to Tyrone's performance. A score of 2-22 is a brilliant tally to rack up, but when 2-17 of it comes from play then accusations of a 'defensive style' become hollow.

A total of 1-12 came from the forward line that has been questioned of late and by way of direct comparison, Kildare could squeeze only 0-2 from their six starting forwards, which says something about their shortcomings.

Tyrone simply held them at arm's length with ease.

"We weren't out to defend a three-point lead," continued Harte.

"We were out to attack in many ways and if we needed to get scores we could in the second half and we did that. It was a question of staying with them in the second half and getting as many scores as they did. That was going to be enough for us and in fact we did better than that.

"I just think there were a lot of players who gave us a lot. We have been waiting on that to come for a while now and it was easy to watch when we saw it come."

It seems that after the emotion of last year and their 'Newbridge or Nowhere' campaign that forced the GAA into a climbdown over fixing their qualifier with Mayo in Croke Park, Kildare have come to the end of their cycle with manager Cian O'Neill.

However, O'Neill refused to answer any questions on his future. He stated: "All I want to do now is to spend a bit of time with them (the players) and the backroom team.

"It's been a long year, difficult at times and challenging. Ultimately, we were beaten in the Championship by the two teams who contested last year's All-Ireland final. We would have loved another shot at the Super 8s again.

"As I said, I'm going to spend some time with the players tonight."

Tyrone have performed many a recuperation through the back door after disappointing Ulster Championship exits. They go into the hat for the Round Four draw this morning where they will play a defeated provincial finalist, which could be Cavan, Meath, Galway or Cork.

The balance of their side looked to be at a higher level from the week prior when they failed to hit any great heights of performance in getting past Longford.

"They always say that one swallow doesn't make a summer and it was a good day at the office for us," said Harte.

"We have had bad days as well. Now, we are just one game away from the last eight and that is important.

"We need to just forget about that game, look at who we get on Monday and take time to prepare as diligently as we can for them.

"I think if we produce a performance like that, then we will take a bit of beating."

In the meantime, Harte will look to welcome back both Richard Donnelly and Paudie Hampsey to full fitness, after admitting that they were on the bench despite still carrying slight niggles.

Tyrone are also awaiting an update on the injury that forced goalscoring defender Cassidy off early.

Harte said: "I don't know about Michael Cassidy, what his injury is that he had to come off. It would be a pity if he is not able to play, but Paudie Hampsey is a week nearer to being available again and Richie Donnelly is a week nearer to being available again, so it will give us more strength on the bench.

"They were on the bench here but we were hoping that we wouldn't have to use them.

"We have another week for them to get over their respective injuries and then we might have a full hand to play them.

"I will find out what happened to Michael."

KILDARE: M Donnellan; M Dempsey, M O'Grady, P Kelly 0-1; C O'Donoghue, E Doyle, D Hyland; K Feely 1-2, F Conway 0-3; D Slattery, C Healy, K Cribbin; A Tyrrell 0-5, 4f, B McCormack, N Flynn 0-3, 2f

Subs: J Hyland for McCormack (11inj), T Moolick 0-1, for Cribbin (50), M Barrett for Healy (52), E O'Flatherty for Slattery (60), K O'Callaghan for Flynn (64), C McNally for Hyland (67)

TYRONE: N Morgan; R Brennan 0-1, R McNamee, HP McGeary; M Cassidy 1-0, K McGeary, F Burns 0-2; C Cavanagh 0-1, B Kennedy; M Donnelly 0-3, N Sludden, C Meyler; P Harte 0-7, 4f, C McShane 0-5, 2f, D McCurry 1-2.

Subs: B McDonnell for Kennedy (22 black), M McKiernan for McGeary (55), C McAliskey 0-1, for Sludden (60), K Coney for McCurry (65), K McLoughlin for HP McGeary (70), A McCrory for Cassidy (72)

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)

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