Tyrone are off the mark in Division One, and they have Mattie Donnelly to thank for it. They shaded a cracking game away to Kildare by a single point, winning 1-16 to 0-18. The decisive score was kicked in the fifth minute of injury time, with its point of origin Donnelly's left foot.
Here it is, courtesy of The GAA.
Inspirational point from leader and captain Mattie Donnelly! pic.twitter.com/RvGTSDuHZk
— The GAA (@officialgaa) February 11, 2018
It's fair to say that he had those watching on enraptured:
What a footballer Mattie Donnelly is. And what a leader.
— Joe Brolly (@JoeBrolly1993) February 11, 2018
Great winning score by Mattie Donnelly for #Tyrone in Newbridge! Time was up when he got the ball, a long way from goal, but he put his head down..strong run & super finish. #Kildare a little unlucky to lose by a point, but they had the chances.
— Des Cahill (@sportsdes) February 11, 2018
Don’t give me the Aidan O Shea’s or Peter Hartes of this world, Mattie Donnelly is streets ahead of both!Class baller 👌
— Craig Rogers (@Rodgie5) February 11, 2018
It could have been very different for Tyrone, with Cian O'Neill's Kildare missing two scoreable frees late in the game, which could have rendered Donnelly's heroics moot. Tyrone were also indebted to Trillick's Lee Brennan, who continues to impress. Having been handed a first senior debut against Dublin last weekend, Brennan responded by kicking six points. Today, he scored a goal from play along with three pointed frees.
Kildare's search for their first point in Division One goes on, and while there are positives to be gleaned from this display, they need to find a win from somewhere. They have lost every game they've played since swatting aside Meath in the Leinster championship semi-finals last year. Having been edged out by Dublin in the Leinster final, they were ambushed by Armagh in the qualifiers less than a fortnight later. 2018 has started in miserable fashion: defeats to Louth and Longford in the O'Byrne Cup presaged this National League campaign, in which they've lost to Dublin, Monaghan and now Tyrone. Like today, the Monaghan defeat was by the slenderest margin.
It doesn't get any easier for the Lilywhites, with a trip to Donegal next on their agenda. While Declan Bonner's side are also pointless, their narrow defeats to Dublin, Galway and Kerry have offered many reasons to be positive for a side likely to have Michael Murphy much closer to match fitness.
Tyrone, meanwhile, travel to Monaghan.