O'Donoghue's brace exposes gulf in quality
Kerry 3-17 Limerick 1-11 McGrath Cup semi-final (SF)
James O'Donoghue scored 2-5 as Kerry continued their winning ways with a comprehensive victory at the Fitzgerald Stadium.
However, it was a lot closer than the scoreline would suggest for 40 minutes before the Kingdom took advantage of Limerick's errors and inexperience to pull away.
Both sides had to make three changes before the throw-in, with the hosts losing the experienced Marc O Se and Aidan O'Mahony from the full-back line, while Barry John Keane came in instead of Paul Geaney.
Limerick were without Stephen Lavin, Pa Ranahan and Eoghan
O'Connor, but matched their opponents in the opening quarter, despite Kerry jumping 0-4 to 0-1 clear inside the opening 15 minutes, thanks to two frees from O'Donoghue and fine efforts from Mikey Geaney and Keane.
Limerick defended stoutly, with Johnny McCarthy keeping Patrick Curtin in a vice-like grip and closed the gap to a point with points from Ian Ryan.
But Kerry's attack always looked menacing, and the electric pace of Darran O'Sullivan and the finishing of O'Donoghue proved too much for a Limerick defence whose lack of discipline proved costly.
Kerry made their move in a five-minute spell before the break, when O'Sullivan played a slick one-two to blast the ball to the net and then a Killian Young cross fell invitingly for O'Donoghue, whose clinical finish made it 2-7 to 0-6 at half-time.
Limerick rallied early in the second period when Darragh Treacy drove through the middle for a fine goal and then a Ryan free closed the gap to three ( 2-7 to 1-7), and it looked game on.
However, the Kingdom took over and an unanswered burst of 1-8 to 0-0 between the 46th and 60th minutes settled the contest.
A defensive error allowed O'Donoghue to grab a poacher's goal and points from Bryan Sheehan, O'Donoghue, Keane, Mikey Geaney, Curtin and Mike O'Donoghue just emphasised the gulf between the sides as Kerry cruised to a McGrath Cup final meeting with Tipperary, probably on Saturday next.
"I don't know exactly how many players we have used over the past number of weeks, but it is certainly in the high twenties, so that is great, considering there are a lot of absentees at the moment," said Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice.
"Overall we are happy and we have a game again next weekend."
Scorers – Kerry: J O'Donoghue 2-5 (0-5f), Darran O'Sullivan 1-1, M Geaney, B J Keane 0-3 each, B Sheehan (2f), M O'Donoghue 0-2 each ,P Curtin 0-1. Limerick: I Ryan 0-6 (5f), D Treacy 1-0, L O'Dwyer, J O'Meara, J O'Riordan, D Neville, D O'Connor 0-1 each.
Kerry – B Kelly, D Culhane, M Moloney, F Fitzgerald, J Lyne, J Sherwood, K Young, A Maher, B Sheehan, M Geaney, Darran O'Sullivan, M O'Donoghue, J O'Donoghue, P Curtin, B J Keane. Subs: K O'Leary for D O'Sullivan (52,), T O Se for B Sheehan (54), A O'Mahony for M Moloney (61), B Looney for J O'Donoghue (61), A Garnett for A Maher (61)
Limerick – B Scanlon; C Coady, J McCarthy, M Sheahan; L O'Dwyer, P Browne, J O'Meara; T Lee, B O'Brien; J Riordan, D Treacy, S O'Carroll; D Neville, D O'Connor, I Ryan. Subs: M O'Keeffe for M Sheehan (34), P Kinnerk for B O'Brien (54), S Sheehan for D Neville (65), D O'Dea for T Lee (68), B McCarthy for J O'Meara (70).
Ref – C Lane (Cork).