Tyrone joint-manager Brian Dooher says his side have four weeks to “put some respect” back into the county’s jersey after Saturday’s crushing Division One semi-final defeat by Kerry.
Kerry produced an attacking masterclass as they scored five first-half goals in a resounding 6-15 to 1-14 victory.
Tyrone’s next game is the Ulster Championship quarter-final against holders Cavan on 10 July.
“We have to draw a line on it,” said Dooher.
“We can’t do anything about today, we’ll take the learning from it.
“We have to get back to the basics and hopefully the players have a bit of pride – we have three or four weeks to put a bit of work in, get ourselves ready for the Cavan match and I suppose put some respect back into the Tyrone jersey.”
Kerry’s win in Killarney ruled out the possibility of a Division One final with Tyrone and Dublin both needing to win Saturday’s semi-finals to set up a decider due to championship commitments.
Instead, Tyrone must regroup ahead of their Ulster Championship opener against Cavan in Omagh on 10 July with Kerry beginning their Munster campaign on 26 June at home to Clare.
In the build-up to the game, Dooher conceded that Kerry represented a “step up” from their recent Ulster opponents in the League and so it proved as the Kingdom conjured an unstoppable performance to run riot at Fitzgerald Stadium.
David Clifford, Gavin White, Dara Moynihan, Paul Geaney (2) and Jack Barry all found the back of the net for Kerry, who emphatically reinforced their reputation as one of Gaelic football’s most devastating attacking outfits.
Kerry blow Tyrone away with first-half blitz
With much of the pre-match discussion centring on how Tyrone would handle Kerry’s talent-rich forward line, there was little in the opening five minutes to suggest that Peter Keane’s side would run away with it as Darren McCurry edged the visitors ahead after opening scores from the returning Sean O’Shea and Kieran McGeary.
However, the floodgates opened after the brilliant David Clifford sprung into life. Awarded a penalty after Ronan McNamee’s push during a goal chance, the two-time All Star calmly slotted past Niall Morgan to swing momentum back in Kerry’s favour.
Tyrone then lost Darragh Canavan to injury in the 10th-minute before Kerry added two more goals to their tally in the space of a frenetic minute, with White pouncing on a poor Morgan kick-out to score brilliantly from 40 metres before Moynihan palmed home after a rapid move involving O’Shea and Clifford.
It is a mark of Kerry’s fluidity and dynamism in attack that their forwards always seemed to find gaps in the Tyrone defence, but the Red Hand rear-guard simply disappeared to allow Geaney to slot home the Munster side’s fourth.
The Dingle man was on hand once more to plunder Kerry’s fifth when he beat Morgan after being teed up by Clifford, and while Peter Harte split the posts for Tyrone before the break, the Ulster side found themselves 14 points adrift after a deeply chastening opening half.
“They shook us,” added Dooher, who captained the Red Hands to All-Ireland Final triumphs over the Kingdom in 2005 and 2008.
“We never seemed to get going and always seemed to be chasing men and the game.
“Kerry just came at us in waves and we didn’t counter-act it. We were too slow to react, both individually and collectively, players and management – we have a little learning to take out of it.”
Tyrone improved slightly after the resumption and were given something to celebrate when substitute McCann fired home after being found by McCurry.
Clifford continued to sparkle, however, producing a beautiful flick to set up a Micheal Burns score before Jason Foley, outstanding at full-back, got in on the act with a fine effort of his own.
Clifford, described by Dooher as a “special talent”, struck 1-6 to bring his League total to 6-22, further evidence of the Fossa clubman’s prodigious gifts.
Kerry can enjoy a well-deserved week off before beginning their Munster campaign at home to Clare on 26 June.
Provided Keane can keep his players fit, it will be difficult to look beyond the men in green and gold for provincial success, while on the evidence provided during their league campaign, they will be fancied to go all the way in the All-Ireland series after failing to make last year’s semi-finals.
As for Tyrone, Dooher and Feargal Logan can look forward to the likelihood of welcoming Cathal McShane back from injury in time for their Ulster Championship opener with Cavan on 10 July.
However, the management team will be forced into a difficult period of self-reflection after their defensive frailties were brutally exposed by one of the favourites for this year’s Sam Maguire.
Despite Saturday’s result in Killarney, the Red Hands will be favourites against Cavan, who face the prospect of Division Four football next season after a third successive relegation, but with the risks in a more attack-minded strategy laid bare at the hands of Kerry, a change in approach may be required if Tyrone are to put this result to bed and enjoy a fruitful Championship summer.
Kerry: K Fitzgibbon; B O Beaglaoich, J Foley (0-1), T O’Sullivan; M Breen (0-1), G Crowley, G White (1-0); D O’Connor, A Spillane; S O’Brien, S O’Shea (0-3, 0-1f), P Geaney (2-0); D Clifford (1-6, 1-0 pen, 0-4f), D Moynihan (1-0), P Clifford.
Subs: J O’Connor for P Clifford (35+3, blood), P Clifford for J O’Connor (blood reversal half-time), T Walsh for P Clifford (43), M Burns (0-2) for P Geaney (43), K Spillane (0-2) for S O’Brien (50), J Barry (1-0) for S O’Shea (54), J O’Connor for D Moynihan (60), J Sherwood for G White (60), P O’Shea for A Spillane (63), G O’Sullivan for M Breen (73).
Tyrone: N Morgan; C Munroe, R McNamee, P Hampsey; M McKernan, P Harte (0-1), L Rafferty; M Donnelly (0-2), F Burns; K McGeary (0-3), D Canavan, C Meyler; D McCurry (0-3, 0-1f), C McKenna, P Donaghy (0-1, 0-1f).
Subs: M Bradley (0-1) for D Canavan (6), T McCann (1-0 pen) for C Monroe (26), R O’Neill (0-1) for P Donaghy (half-time), R Donnelly for F Burns (half-time), R Brennan (0-1) for M McKernan (46), N Sludden (0-1) for L Rafferty (46), C Kilpatrick for R McNamee (69).
Allianz Football League Semi-Finals/Play-offs
Saturday, 12 June
Sunday, 13 June