Clifford a class apart as Kerry kids ease through
Kerry 2-22 Cavan 2-10: All-Ireland MFC semi-final
Kerry will be involved in a fourth consecutive All-Ireland Minor Football Final as the defending champions and three-in-a-row winners won their 23rd consecutive game at minor level in overcoming a tricky challenge from Cavan by 12 points. Conditions were difficult for both sides but the genius of David Clifford shone like a beacon in the mist and Cavan just could not cope.
Some of Clifford's scores almost signalled that he was of a different planet as the team captain finished with 1-10 in an accomplished display by the Fossa native.
The Breffni County caused the Kingdom defence some problems early on but Kerry started to get on top around the middle of the first period, a run of six consecutive points putting them 0-10 to 0-3 ahead after 26 minutes.
Cavan gave their opponents cause for concern at the break, however, when Oisín Pierson took advantage of some slack marking from the Kerry defence to get the better of goalkeeper Deividas Uosis for Cavan's first goal as the half-time score was 0-11 to 1-4 in Kerry's favour.
But the Ulster side failed to score in the third quarter, as Kerry's lead stretched to 13 points (1-17 to 1-4), with Brian Friel having a solid outing in the forward line. Clifford scored Kerry's first goal in the 35th minute, Cavan goalkeeper Gary O'Rourke having initially stopped him from close range but powerless to prevent a rebound that subsequently came the Kerry sharpshooter's way.
It was obvious that Kerry would win from there but Cavan exposed a few problems for the Kingdom that they will need to address before the All-Ireland final.
Midfielder James Smith ended Cavan's scoring drought and gave Kerry something to think about in the 54th minute when he took advantage of some poor defending again for their second goal.
Two further points reduced Kerry's lead to five points at 1-17 to 2-9 but substitute Jack Griffin steadied any Kerry nerves with their second goal in the third of three additional minutes. While Cavan never gave up in their first outing in Croke Park at minor level since 1974, Kerry's greater experience of GAA headquarters proved to be a decisive factor by the end.
Clifford scored two '45's and a free as part of his final total as substitute Eddie Horan became Kerry's ninth different scorer in completing another victory for the Kingdom. They will face either Dublin or Derry in the decider on the third Sunday in September with a historic feat in their grasp should they emerge with the Tommy Markham Cup once more.
Scorers: Kerry - D Clifford 1-10, (2 '45's' 1f), J Griffin 1-1, B Friel 0-4, F Clifford 0-2, D O'Connor, B Mahony, Donnachadh O'Sullivan, Donal O'Sullivan (f) and E Horan 0-1 each Mayo- O Pierson 1-5, (2f), J Smith 1-2, C Madden, R Patterson and P Rogers 0-1 each
Kerry: D Uosis, S O'Leary, C O'Donoghue, C Gammell, P Warren, M Potts, N Donohoe, B Mahony, D O'Connor, A Donoghue, D Clifford, Donal O'Sullivan, F Clifford, Donnachadh O'Sullivan, B Friel Subs: J Griffin for Donnachadh O'Sullivan (43), E Horan for Donohoe (46), C Ferriter for Donal O'Sullivan (51), C O'Reilly for F Clifford (57), M O'Leary for Mahony (60 +1) and R O'Neill for Gammell (60 +8)
Cavan: G O'Rourke, J Cooke, E Fortune, R Coyle, P Nulty, C Timoney, D Cusack, R Patterson, J Smith, R Curran, C Madden, P Rogers, O Pierson, P Lynch, O Kiernan Subs: S Keoghan for Kiernan (H/T), N McCabe for Lynch (44), T Reilly for Curran (51) P Meade for Patterson (60) and R Madden for Timoney (60 +7)
Ref - L Devenney (Mayo)