14-man Kerry have more than enough to see off Clare and set up Munster final clash with Rebels
Kerry sealed their expected passage into another Munster final, and remain firmly on course for a seventh straight provincial title but had to resist a much improved second half performance from Clare. In rainy conditions at Ennis, the rampant favourites were under no real threat in the opening half, and led comfortably at half time, having thrashed Clare by 22 points in Killarney last year.
Clare deployed Cian O’Dea, listed in the full forward line, as an extra defender but Kerry created five goal chances in the opening half, converting one, and led 1-9 to 0-3 at the interval. Even by then the situation looked irretrievable for the home team yet they picked up their game and drove at Kerry as the game wore on.
They did managed to reduce some of the deficit in the second half and picked off some tidy scores from Jamie Malone and David Tubridy but even though Kerry lost Mark Griffin to a second yellow card in the 66th minute they were still eight points in front.
James O’Donoghue had a fine match until he went off injured in the second half and scored their goal near half time, set up by David Clifford. There were other goal efforts from Clifford, Stephen O’Brien, Sean O’Shea and Paul Geaney that might have left Clare with a more embarrassing defeat.
The home team hit balls on Darragh Bohannon in the full forward line through the first half but he often had two Kerry men for company and the conditions made catching arduous. By half time they ditched that plan and took Bohannon off.
Tubridy started despite playing little football in the previous two months and he kicked their best score, the closing one of the first half, deep into injury time. It took 18 minutes for Clare to score, from a Tubridy free, and their first from play, from Eoin Cleary, set up by Tubridy, took until the 32nd minute.
Their attack was missing Keelin Sexton, who has gone to the US, but most of the first half was based on a policy of containment. At the other end Clare were wasteful, hitting three wides from scoreable positions in the opening half, dropping two short and hitting the post.
In his first championship game as Kerry manager, Peter included four debutants, with injuries ruling out Paul Murphy, Jack Barry and Gavin White.
Adrian Spillane, Gavin Crowley, Shane Ryan, in goal, and Diarmuid O’Connor were blooded in Kerry’s first competitive outing since losing the Division 1 league final to Mayo in Croke Park on March 31. There was also a recall for Jack Sherwood at centre-back - his first championship game in four years - although he was replaced at the interval.
The play was stopped for several minutes nearing full-time when there was a dangerous accidental clash between Kerry’s Sean O’Shea and Clare’s Kevin Harnett, who was stretchered off after receiving attention. O’Shea also had to leave the field. It led to 11 minute of injury time being added. Jamie Malone kicked his third point of a mach improved second half for Clare and reduced the margin of arrears to six points.
Kerry lost Tommy Walsh to a black card but relieved some of the pressure when Jason Foley fisted a point after roaming up the field to extend the lead to seven.
Scorers: Kerry - S O’Shea 0-5 (0-5 fs), D Clifford 0-3 (0-1 f), J O’Donoghue 1-1, P Geaney, D Moran, D O’Connor, A Spillane, M Burns, J Foley 0-1. Clare - E Cleary 0-5 (0-3 fs), D Tubridy 0-3 (0-1 f), J Malone 0-3, C O’Connor 0-1.
Kerry: S Ryan; J Foley, T Morley, T O’Sullivan; S Enright, J Sherwood, G Crowley; D Moran, D O’Connor; A Spillane S O’Shea, S O’Brien; D Clifford, P Geaney, J O’Donoghue.
Subs: M Griffin for Moran (b/c 17 mins); G White for Sherwood (half time); M Burns for O’Brien (44); R Wharton for Crowley (49); T Walsh for O’Donoghue (inj 52); J Lyne for O’Shea (inj 71).
Clare: S Ryan; G Kelly, C Brennan, K Harnett; S Collins, A Fitzgerald, C O hAinifein; S O’Donoghue, C O’Connor; G Brennan, E Cleary, J Malone; C O’Dea, D Tubridy, D Bohannon.
Subs: G Cooney for Bohannon (half time); D Ryan for O hAinifein (b/c 41); K Malone for O’Donoghue (49); E Collins for S Collins (52); C Murray for C Brennan (61); A Sweeney for Harnett (inj 72).
Referee: J Molloy (Galway).