IT was a good old-fashioned slugfest between Kildare and Tyrone at Newbridge yesterday afternoon – and it was left to Mattie Donnelly to deliver the knock-out blow to ignite Tyrone’s league season as the Red Hands won 1-16 to 0-18.
A draw looked inevitable as the sides traded scores throughout this absorbing contest, but the Trillick man refused to settle for an even split and lofted over a sensational winner.
The win was Tyrone’s first in Division One and leaves the Lilywhites, who were extremely unfortunate not to take anything from this game, still on zero.
The hosts had started well and were four points up before Niall Sludden, who scored 0-3 in the first half, got Tyrone off the mark.
Brennan and Sludden kept the scoreboard ticking over to leave it 0-5 to 0-4 in Kildare’s favour, before the lead went back out to four points.
Brennan’s fine goal gave them a foothold in proceedings and Tyrone finished the half strong to lead by a point at the interval.
The second half saw the sides go score for score with neither able to streak away.
Indeed, a Kevin Feely free and a fine Cian O’Donoghue effort allowed Kildare to regain the lead as they pushed for home in the final stages.
Donnelly responded seconds later before Cathal McShane landed a sky-scraper to leave the visitors one up with five minutes to go.
Kildare probed hard but couldn’t find a route to goal – that was until the 73rd minute when Feely pointed against after Tiernan McCann clumsily fell into Chris Healy.
It looked like the final act in a super game of football, but Donnelly made sure that there was one last twist. And what a vital one it was.
Full report and reaction in tomorrow’s Tyrone Herald.