ALLIANZ NFL DIVISION TWO
TYRONE 2-11 KILDARE 0-12
From Alan Rodgers in Croke Park
TYRONE got their National League campaign off to a winning start at Croke Park with a 2-11 to 0-12 victory over Kildare.
It was a performance laced with plenty of quality football from the Red Hands. Second half goals from Martin Penrose and then a brave effort from Peter Harte proved decisive in seeing them record two valuable points.
Among those who certainly enjoyed the win was Trillick’s Mattie Donnelly. It was his first appearance at headquarters since the 2008 All-Ireland Minor final and he says the young players in the squad are determined to make their mark.
“We put our shoulder to the wheel in the second half and people saw what we could do. It’s good to start with a win, especially when you look at last year when we were chasing things after two losses,” he said.
“There wasn’t any real worry at half-time because you just had to look around the dressing-room to see who else was there. It was just about getting the workrate right and making the right decisions.
“Peter Harte’s goal was probably the best moment. It was probably a bit scrappy, but in terms of bravery he summed up what turned the game for us in the second half.
“We’ve Derry next week and they’ll be looking to turn things around. The McKenna Cup win won’t matter all that much and hopefully we can get another win.”
A series of sublime points ensured a satisfactory night for Tyrone. In particular, the displays of Owen Mulligan and Stephen O’Neill in attack and young players such as Conor Clarke and Ronan O’Neill will have pleased team manager, Mickey Harte.
Now Mattie Donnelly is aiming to make the most of an opportunity to establish himself on the senior squad.
“The whole team is putting in a great effort, the physical demands of county football are no secret and you can’t be going in without working on your strength. It’s a big step-up and I’ve still a bit of work in terms of fitness,” he added.
“The older players on the team have a great calming effect on us, the likes of Owen Mulligan and Stephen O’Neill. This year us younger players want the jersey and it’s up to us to get that and a few are stepping up to the plate.”
CHECK OUT THIS MONDAY’S TYRONE HERALD FOR FULL MATCH COVERAGE, ANALYSIS AND REACTION.