A RUTHLESS Kerry put Clare to the sword with ease as they moved into top spot in Division 2 and look odds on for a place in the semi-finals and in doing so sent out a stern warning to others that they are serious contenders for the Division 2 title.
Last week's heroine Deirdre Corridan got Kerry out of the blocks within the first minute with a pointed free and this was quickly added to by points from Sarah Houlihan and Patrice Dennehy, but Clare responded themselves with a pointed free from Ailish Considine and then on the fifth minute Marie Kelly's effort edged past Edel Murphy to put Clare ahead. Game on it looked, but it was to be the last time Clare were going to really bother Kerry in what turned out to be as one sided a game as you are likely to see at this level.
Mags Fitzgerald had her first of three goals on the seventh minute to put Kerry back ahead 1-4 to 1-1 as Kerry moved into top gear quickly winning nearly all the breaks at midfield, but it was their great movement off the ball that helped carve out the chances. Fitzgerald, Galvin and Houlihan added further points and by the 13th minute they were now 1-8 to 1-2 ahead.
Galvin and Fitzgerald were causing all types of problems for the Clare defence with their strong physical presence and accurate scoring. They both combined well for Fitzgerald's second goal on the 25th minute as Kerry were now 2-12 to 1-3 to the good. Clare's Ailish Considine and Niamh Keane did put up a little resistance with fine points of their own, but it was consolation even at this early stage.
Bernie Breen had the last score of the half a point that scraped the crossbar with furious power. Clare threw in the towel at half-time and withdrew all their inter-county camoige players including two of their scorers, who had scored four of their first half points and replaced them with debutants as they were already planning on their must win game against Waterford to avoid relegation.
Kerry were not bothered and kept the banner girls scoreless for the next 25 minutes in which time they added a further 2-10 to their half time score with Mags Fitzgerald (1-1), Louise Galvin (0-4), Sarah Houlihan (0-2), Laura Rogers (0-1), Corridan (0-1), Quirke (0-1) and Sarah Jane Joy (1-0). They also Kerry ran the bench in the second half and introduced seven subs as the game wound down to a training pace.
Clare did manage to raise a gallop in the last five minutes and were rewarded by a Laura Hanrahan goal, but Kerry's response was immediate with Rogers getting Kerry's fifth goal. While this game was over by the 14th minute it was pleasing to see Kerry remain focused till the end and they displayed some great movement both on and off the ball. Louise Galvin looked very sharp and hungry for work and probably had her finest hour in a Kerry jersey.
The same could apply to Mags Fitzgerald who terrorised the Clare defence at will and seems to have benefited from a year's break away from the game. She has scored 7-9 in her last four games with at least a goal in each game. The Kerry defence were not tested to any degree of difficulty but Edel Murphy in goal showed her sharpness once again with a brilliant double save on full-time.
Kerry gave debuts to Rosie Young of Abbeydorney and Laura Rogers of Austin Stacks. The Tralee teenager looked well at home and chipped in 1-1 to the cause.
As for Clare, it was hard to believe that they actually beat Kerry last season. They are in a real decline at the moment as the fortunes of their camoige team are on a rise with many of the cross over players opting to play Camoige. They will now be well tested to avoid relegation.
Kerry now have three games left. Next up a home game to Kildare that will represent a stern challenge, an away trip to Cavan that always represents danger and a home game to Galway that could well decide who tops the league.
Kerry: Edel Murphy, Gina Crowley, Aislinn Desmond, Aoife Lyons, Caroline Kelly, Julie Brosnan, Denise Hallissey, Lorraine Scanlon, Bernie Breen 0-1, Sarah Houlihan 0-4, Deirdre Corridan 0-3, Marie Quirke 0-1, Mags Fitzgerald 3-3, Louise Galvin 0-8, Patrice Dennehy 0-2. Subs: Laura Rogers 1-1 for Dennehy, Emma Sherwood for Scanlon, Cassandra Buckley for Lyons, Rosie Young for Kelly, Sarah J Joy 1-0 for Galvin, Cait Lynch for Brosnan
Clare: Emer Driscoil, Niamh Kavanagh, Lorraine Kelly, Marie Foran, Sarah Bohannon, Emer O'Connor, Kay McCormack, Marie Considine, Fiona Lafferty, Marie Kelly 1-1, Niamh Keane 0-1, Emir Considine, Rosin Looney, Ailish Considine 0-3, Sue Higgins. Subs: Laura Hanrahan 1-0 for A Considine, Niamh Gardner for M Considine
Referee: MJ O'Keefe (Cork)