Kerry retained their Division 1 status after posting their best performance of the league with a 1-16 to 2-12 win over Tyrone at Healy Park.
Tomás Ó Sé’s 32nd-minute goal, and seven points shared between Declan O’Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy, sent wind-assisted Kerry in with a 1-13 to 0-5 interval lead
Stephen O’Neill netted for Tyrone, and points from Conor Gormley and Conor Clarke and a Mark Donnelly goal narrowed the gap from 12 to one, but the Kingdom held on for a result that saved their premier status.
With Colm Cooper running the show from centre forward, the Kingdom quickly established control, running at the home side in relentless waves.
Jonathan Lyne and Paul Gavlin picked up loose ball at will, and Cooper provided the killer passes that led to scores from Declan O’Sullivan, Kieran Donaghy and Darran O’Sullivan.
The Red hands, playing into a strong breeze, were on the back foot for almost the entire first half and, by the 10-minute mark, they trailed by 0-06 to 0-01.
It was an explosive opening from a fired-up Kingdom side, with Cooper setting up Donaghy with immaculate passes, and Declan O’Sullivan steering over a couple of gems.
Tomás Ó Sé raided constantly from deep, and brought a terrific save from Niall Morgan, while Lyne smashed a shot against a post.
Morgan converted a long-range free to add to Ronan O’Neill’s early score, but Tyrone were putting out fires all over the field.
Donaghy, Lyne and Johnny Buckley added to the Kingdom tally, and in the 32nd minute they grabbed the goal they deserved.
Darran O’Sullivan squared the ball for the inrushing Ó Sé to punch to the net, and Kerry went in with a massive 1-13 to 0-05 lead.
Tyrone grabbed a lifeline five minutes into the second half, Martin Penrose sending Stephen O’Neill to finish brilliantly to the net, but excellent midfielder Buckley kept Kerry comfortable with two well-taken scores from play.
But Tyrone finally found their rythmn in the closing stages of the third quarter, hitting four points on the spin, two of them from substitute defenders Conor Gormley and Conor Clarke.
Clarke and Darren McCurry added further scores as Tyrone cut the gap to four, Kerry restricted to sporadic attacks.
They went 25 minutes without scoring, before Cooper swung over a 20-metre free to make it a five-points game.
But back came Tyrone again and, after Sean Cavanagh had split the posts, Mark Donnelly punched home a stoppage-time goal.
Tyrone: N Morgan (0-01f), A McCrory, Justin McMahon (0-01f), C McCarron, R McKenna, Joe McMahon, R McNamee, C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-02, 1f), P McNeice, P Harte (0-01f), Mark Donnelly (1-00), D McCurry (0-02f), S O’Neill (1-01), R O’Neill (0-01f).
Subs: M Penrose for R O’Neill, C Clarke (0-02) for R O’Neill, C Gormley (0-01) for McNamee, C McGinley for McNeice, C McAliskey for McCurry
Kerry: B Kealy, M Ó Sé, M Griffin, S Enright, T Ó Sé (1-01), E Brosnan, K Young, A Maher, J Buckley (0-03), J Lyne (0-01), C Cooper (0-03, 2f), P Galvin, Declan O’Sullivan (0-04), K Donaghy (0-03), Darran O’Sullivan (0-01).
Subs: B Maguire for Brosnan, K O’Leary, for Darran O’Sullivan, D Walsh for Galvin, B Sheehan for Buckley
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).