Munster SFC: Kerry crush Clare
Munster SFC semi-final
KERRY 0-32 CLARE 0-10
By Paul Brennan at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney
Kerry's Munster Championship defence got off to an unexpectedly easy start with a 22-point win over Clare in Killarney this afternoon, despite the presence of seven Championship debutants in the home side.
Or maybe it was the presence of those seven new faces that propelled Kerry to this victory with Micheal Burns, Sean O'Shea and David Clifford's combined 11 points exceeding Clare's total.
It was a frightening display of point scoring from the Kingdom, but expectations ahead of a June 23 Munster Final meeting with Cork will be tempered by context.
Clare were poor from first whistle to last, with none of the industry or confidence that made them such a hard side for Kerry to shake off 12 months ago in Ennis in the corresponding fixture.
When James O'Donoghue slung over his first point it saw all six Kerry forwards scoring from play by the 21st minute, at which stage Kerry led 0-10 to 0-3, as Clare's challenge disappeared completely.
Devoid of energy and ideas, Clare offered none of the challenge to Kerry that they had in recent provincial championship meetings, and it allowed Kerry to express themselves fully, with their three debutants in attack - Sean O'Shea, David Clifford and Micheal Burns - scoring more between them than Clare's total.
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice will be pleased with the attitude and application with which his players went at this game from the first whistle, although Clare did score the first two points of the game to offer the travelling support an early glimmer of hope. It was a cruel mirage, as once Kerry found their rhythm they never allowed Clare a sniff of anything.
Debutant Burns landed the hosts' first point, followed by scores from teenagers O'Shea and Clifford. Kerry were four points ahead when David Tubridy scored Clare's third from an acute angle, but Paul Geaney responded with a brace of superb scores to put Kerry five ahead.
The points came coming for Kerry in almost metronomic fashion - Stephen O'Brien, O'Donoghue, Burns, O'Shea - before Jack Barry claimed a kick-out, soloed in on goal and blasted the ball over the bar with just Eamonn Tubridy to beat.
Kerry were 0-16 to 0-3 ahead when Cleary converted a free for Clare's fourth score of the half, with Keelan Sexton engineering a goal chance in added on time but he blazed wide as Kerry led by 12 at the interval.
The second half continued in similar fashion with Kerry adding another 16 points, with Barry John Keane coming off the bench to kick three from play. The loudest cheers were reserved for the introductions of Anthony Maher, Darran O'Sullivan and especially Kieran Donaghy, who looked sharp, albeit against a Clare defence completely deflated by then.
Clare managed a few consolation scores in a game in which team really threatened for a goal, but that's a small problem for Kerry right now. Kicking 32 points against any opposition is a fine day's work and they will look to transfer that accuracy to Pairc Ui Chaoimh in three weeks when Cork stand between the Kingdom and a sixth successive provincial crown.
Scorers for Kerry: S O'Shea 0-7 (4f, 1 '45'), P Geaney 0-7 (1f), J O'Donoghue 0-4 (2f), S O'Brien 0-3, BJ Keane 0-3, M Burns 0-2, D Clifford 0-2 (1f), J Barry, A Maher, M Geaney, D O'Sullivan (f) 0-1 each
Scorers for Clare: E Cleary 0-5 (4f), D Tubridy (1f) and J Malone (0-2 each), P Lillis 0-1
KERRY: *Shane Murphy, Jason Foley, Peter Crowley, Ronan Shanahan, Paul Murphy, Tadhg Morley, Gavin White, David Moran, Jack Barry, Micheál Burns, Seán O’Shea, Stephen O’Brien, David Clifford, Paul Geaney, James O’Donoghue. *Subs: Mikey Geaney for M Burns (46), Barry John Keane for J O'Donoghue (53), Anthony Maher for D Moran (57), B Ó Beaglaoich for R Shanahan (57), Darran O'Sullivan for D Clifford (60), Kieran Donaghy for S O'Shea (64)
CLARE: Eamon Tubridy, Gordon Kelly, Killian Brennan, Eoghan Collins, Pearse Lillis, Aaron Fitzgerald, Cian O’Dea, Gary Brennan, Cathal O’Connor, Kieran Malone, Eoin Cleary, Jamie Malone, Colm O hAinifein, Keelan Sexton, David Tubridy. *Subs: *Gearoid O'Brien for K Malone (45), Eimhin Courtney for D Tubridy (53), Gavin Cooney for K Sexton (57), Eanna O'Connor for C Ó hAinifein (59), Conor Finucane for C O'Dea (66).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)