Kerry book final spot

All Ireland Premier Junior Camogie Semi-Final: Kerry 1-13 Clare 0-6

Action from the Junior Camogie semi-final
Action from the Junior Camogie semi-final

Eoin Brennan, Cusack Park, Ennis

Not even Clare's home advantage could prevent All-Ireland favourites Kerry from powering to a second successive decider in Croke Park as their quest for that elusive breakthrough to intermediate level took a considerable step closer on Saturday afternoon.

Bearing in mind that this was a first versus second team, it was far from a flawless performance from the Kingdom though who despite the continuity and understanding built up between Clanmaurice's club side and virtually an identical county unit, weren't as ruthless as one would have expected.

That said, they did effectively wrap up Saturday's spoils by the 23rd minute when raiding for an unanswered 1-7 with the aid of the conditions but once Clare did finally brush off their inevitable nerves and play with a degree of composure, the Banner actually matched their opponents at 0-6 to 0-6 for the final two-thirds of the contest.

That in itself was an achievement as for the opening 20 minutes, Clare veered away from any pre-match gameplan, uncharacteristically spilling possession all too easily along with hitting aimless deliveries into their starved forward unit that only managed one shot at the posts to their opponents 15 in that period.

So while Kerry did chalk up eight first half wides, they could rely on talisman Patrice Diggin who fired the first five points before Julianne O'Keeffe took up that mantle with a further 1-2, with the goal coming from a Diggin defensive free that the full-forward deflected into the net to open up a ten point advantage.

A lesser team may have thrown in the towel and accepted their inevitable fate but led superbly by captain Kate O'Gorman along with a battling display from Rebecca Crowe, Clare would end the opening period with three of the last five points through chief threat Sinead O'Keeffe, Regan Conway and O'Gorman to lower the damage to nine by the break at 1-9 to 0-3.

With the wind to come, all was not lost but while the second period was much more evenly matched, in truth Clare never looked like reeling in their opponents or even grabbing a lifeline goal that may have put doubts in Kerry's heads.

Instead, Diggin and O'Keeffe extended the Kingdom's cushion to 11 while also seeing an Olivia Dineen goal attempt repelled by goalkeeper Edel McNamara before the Banner found their feet.

Late points from Conway, Niamh O'Gorman and Siobhan Lenihan might have been deservedly accentuated by a Kate O'Gorman goal, only for the captain's free to be stopped on the line.

However, while Clare won't be a part of it, there will be an All-Munster All-Ireland Premier Junior decider in a month's time after Limerick overcame Roscommon to book their place alongside the Kingdom who will need to improve further if they are to redress the balance of last year's minimum final defeat to Dublin.

Kerry: Aoife Fitzgerald (Clanmaurice); Liz Houlihan (Clanmaurice), Michelle Costelloe (Clanmaurice), Aine O'Connor (Clanmaurice); Niamh Leen (Clanmaurice) (Captain), Sara Murphy (Clanmaurice), Elaine Ryall (Clanmaurice); Laura Collins (Clanmaurice), Patrice Diggin (Clanmaurice) (0-7, 3f); Rachel McCarthy (Clanmaurice), Jackie Horgan (Clanmaurice), Jessica Fitzell (Clanmaurice); Olivia Dineen (Clanmaurice) (0-1), Julianne O'Keeffe (Clanmaurice) (1-4), Brid Horan (Cillard) (0-1) Subs: Norette Casey (Clanmaurice) for Fitzell (46), Clodagh Walsh (Clanmaurice) for Horan (49), Eilish Harrington (Clanmaurice) for Leen (57), Alanna Maunsell (Clanmaurice) for McCarthy (57), Annemarie Leen (Clanmaurice) for Collins (62)

Clare: Edel McNamara (Kilkishen); Rebecca Crowe (Ruan), Rebecca Cahill (Kilmaley), Orlaith Cotter (Inagh-Kilnamona); Niamh Mulqueen (Broadford), Orla Moloney (St Joseph's Doora/Barefield), Corina McMahon (Corofin); Kate O'Gorman (Kilkishen) (0-1), Louise Browne (Corofin); Sinead Power (Inagh-Kilnamona), Regan Conway (Feakle) (0-2f), Siobhan Lenihan (Kilkishen) (0-1); Aleisha Malone (Corofin), Sinead O'Keeffe (Kilmaley) (0-1), Niamh O'Gorman (Kilkishen) (0-1) Subs: Ciara Halpin (Clooney-Quin) for Moloney (19), Louise McDonnell (Ruan) for Power (39), Kiah Mellett (Sixmilebridge) for Malone (51), Aisling McMahon (St Joseph's Doora/Barefield) for Cahill (59)

Referee: Gavin Donegan (Dublin)