Tyrone made it safely through to round four of the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers with a 2-22 to 1-15 win over Kildare at Newbridge.
They took some time to get going, even when the Lilywhites were reduced to 14 men with 20 minutes to play, but finished strongly for a ten points success and a place in Monday morning's draw.
The Red Hands moved ahead of Kildare to top the Qualifiers success chart with 30 wins, and this one showed again how comfortable they are while negotiating the alternative route, a path that has taken them to two Sam Maguire Cup triumphs, and most recently, to last year’s All-Ireland final.
Michael Cassidy and Darren McCurry netted the goals that ended Kildare’s season, and seven Peter Harte points and a commanding display by skipper Mattie Donnelly confirmed their superiority.
Tyrone got off to the perfect start with a goal after just six minutes. Kieran McGeary and Cathal McShane combined out on the left, and it was Niall Sludden who slipped a pass to wing back Michael Cassidy, timing his run perfectly to collect and smash to the net past Mark Donnellan.
By the tenth minute they led by five, with Peter Harte knocking over his second point, before Chris Healy did the spadework for Kildare’s opening point, arrowed over by Neil Flynn.
But the home side struggled to track the Red Hand runners, coming from everywhere, with corner back Rory Brennan stealing in for a point as they drew strength from their familiar running game.
When Mattie Donnelly clipped over his 18th minute score, six points separated the sides, but a couple of brilliant efforts from midfielder Fergal Conway kept Cian O’Neill’s side in touch.
And they struck a huge blow in the 31st minute with a well worked goal. Conway started the move, with Peter Kelly coming from deep to feed Keith Cribbin, and Kevin Feely appeared on his shoulder to take the final pass and rifle his shot past Niall Morgan.
Tyrone’s response was positive, with Harte claiming his third from a free and Darren McCurry his second, and they took a 1-9 to 1-6 lead into the interval.
Mattie Donnelly used his strength to break tackles and set up scores for Burns and McShane as the Ulster men re-started seamlessly, with the skipper adding a point himself, before Harte put six between the sides.
Goalscorer Feely kept Kildare spirits very much alive with two wonderful scores, but in the 49th minute, full back Mick O’Grady was sent off on a second booking.
Feely and Conway dug deep to keep the Leinster men in the game, and they carved the openings on the break which led to scores for Tommy Moolick, Tyrell and Flynn.
With ten minutes to play, they were still just four adrift, but Tyrone put the game to bed with a second goal, palmed home by Darren McCurry in the 64th minute following tidy approach work from Conor Meyler and Michael McKernan.
Kildare: M Donnellan; M Dempsey, M O’Grady, P Kelly (0-01); C O’Donoghue, E Doyle, D Hyland; K Feely (1-02), F Conway (0-03); D Slattery, C Healy, K Cribbin; A Tyrell (0-5, 4f), B McCormack, N Flynn (0-3, 2f).
Subs: J Hyland for McCormack (10), T Moolick (0-01) for Cribbin (48), M Barrett for Healy (51), E O’Flaherty for Slatterty (59), K O’Callaghan for Flynn (64), C McNally for Hyland (67)
Tyrone: N Morgan, HP McGeary, R McNamee, R Brennan (0-01); M Cassidy (1-00), F Burns (0-02), K McGeary; C Cavanagh (0-01), B Kennedy; M Donnelly (0-03), N Sludden, P Harte (0-07, 3f); D McCurry (1-02), C McShane (0-05, 2f), C Meyler.
Subs: B McDonnell for Kennedy (BC 20), M McKernan for McGeary (54), C McAliskey (0-01) for Sludden (59), K Coney for McCurry (65), C McLaughlin for HP McGeary (71), A McCrory for Cassidy (71)
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).