Mattie Donnelly was the hero for Tyrone as his 75th-minute effort secured a crucial victory over Kildare in a thrilling contest in Newbridge.

It was a game that could have gone either way as the teams were level on seven separate occasions but Tyrone did just enough to see it out.

Both sides needed to win after losing their opening two outings and Kildare will face an uphill task to avoid relegation now.

The Lilywhites started well, Daniel Flynn catching the throw in and storming down the heart of the Tyrone defence before being fouled, which led to a Kevin Feely converted free.

Fergal Conway then hit two fine points either side of a Ben McCormack effort as the hosts raced into a 0-4 to 0-0 lead after ten minutes.

Tyrone finally got on the board with a well taken Niall Sludden effort in the 12th minute but Peter Kelly soon restored Kildare parity with a point in space after a flowing team move.

Two Lee Brennan frees were added to by a lovely effort from Tiarnan McCann and the Red Hand County had reduced the lead to one halfway through the half.

Kildare hit another spurt though with Feely, Mark Donnellan and Paul Cribbin all on target but they only scored two more points before the break through Feely as Mickey Harte’s men reeled off 1-4.

Sludden with two, as well as a Niall Morgan free, had Tyrone right back in it and then they struck for goal in the 28th minute as Lee Brennan won a nice ball inside from Cathal McShane and took advantage of Kildare indecision to drive past Mark Donnellan.

Connor McAliskey also had another goal chance when a poorly directed Mark Donnellan kickout went straight to him but he had to be content with a point as Tyrone held a single-point interval lead at 1-8 to 0-10.

Tyrone's Cathal McShane is tackled by Tommy Moolick

The teams went tit for tat throughout the third quarter as Tyrone got scores from Brennan, Cathal McShane, McAliskey and Padraig McNulty.

Kildare hit back in kind with two Feely frees, as well as efforts from Niall Kelly and Daniel Flynn, as Tyrone maintained their one point advantage.

Kildare eventually broke the monopoly with a brace of Feely frees and a barnstorming Cian O’Donoghue score as they creeped in front but Tyrone hit back once more with two brilliant efforts from Donnelly and Darren McCurry bringing the sides level at 0-17 to 1-14 with ten minutes remaining.

Tyrone kept coming back for more though and McShane, who was very influential throughout, kicked a brilliant score from range as Tyrone moved into a one point lead.

It looked like missed frees from Feely and Donnellan would cost Kildare dear but the midfielder got another opportunity and made no mistake in the 72nd minute to equalise.

There was still time for late drama however, with Donnelly kicking a superb effort for Tyrone on the far sideline to hand his team the vital victory.

Tyrone: Niall Morgan 0-1 (0-1f); Hugh Pat McGeary, Padraig Hampsey, Cathal McCarron, Tiarnan McCann 0-1, Rory Brennan, Ciaran McLaughlin, Mattie Donnelly 0-2, Padraig McNulty 0-1, Conor Meyler, Niall Sludden 0-3, Peter Harte, Lee Brennan 1-3 (0-3fs), Cathal McShane 0-2, Connor McAliskey 0-2(0-1f).

Subs:  Michael McKernan for McLaughlin 38 mins, Darren McCurry 0-1 for R.Brennan 42 mins, Ronan McNamee for McNulty 53 mins, Conall McCann for L.Brennan 57 mins, Mark Bradley for McAlliskey 60 mins, Kieran McGeary for T.McCann 76 mins.

Kildare: Mark Donnellan 0-1(0-1 45); Peter Kelly 0-1, David Hyland, Mick O'Grady, Johnny Byrne, Eoin Doyle, Cian O'Donoghue 0-1, Kevin Feely 0-9 (0-8fs), Tommy Moolick, Fergal Conway 0-2, Niall Kelly 0-1, Paul Cribbin 0-1, Ben McCormack 0-1, Daniel Flynn 0-1, Paddy Brophy.

Subs: Jimmy Hyland for McCormack h-t, Luke Flynn for Moolick 47 mins, Chris Healy for N.Kelly 55 mins, Keith Cribbin for Conway 60 mins, Cathal McNally for Brophy 65 mins.

Ref: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)