Keane happy 'to get out of it' as Banner rattle Kerry
Munster SFC semi-final: Kerry 1-15 Clare 0-12
Peter Keane's first senior Championship match in charge of Kerry had some fine moments, before entering a slow-paced deterioration and ending with the team having just 13 players on the field.
In heavy rain in front of a crowd of 5,037, their best football came in the first-half, which they dominated, before Clare improved and created a more interesting contest. While they won with relative comfort, their lead was slipping.
"It mightn't have been a classic or it mightn't have been sexy," said Keane. "But we got out of it."
A job done, in other words. A seventh successive title is in their crosshairs now, Cork awaiting them on June 22, the same day that Clare will return to the qualifiers, where they have had some encouraging results in Colm Collins' time in charge.
Collins watched his team struggle in the first-half. They packed bodies behind the ball, but were turned over too often against a team of Kerry's quality when in possession.
They placed Darragh Bohannon near the Kerry goal and bombed balls on him, to little effect. Their finishing was also poor, the team having to wait until the 18th minute before David Tubridy's free opened their account.
By then Kerry had 0-3 on the board and could have had three goals, the Clare goal living a charmed life in which Stephen Ryan, introduced after the league when Clare's first three goalkeeping choices were injured, did his best to keep Kerry restrained.
Kerry led 1-9 to 0-3 at half-time, moved 12 points clear in the second-half, and then found Clare refusing to yield any further.
Beaten by 22 points last year in Killarney, the home team upped their performance, took over the middle third and went at Kerry. However, they never looked likely to cause an upset, and failed to create a single clear goalscoring opportunity. In the final quarter they moved the outstanding Garry Brennan into the full-forward line in the hope of grabbing a lifeline.
"I suppose a result was the most important thing coming here," said Keane. "The important thing is to win."
Collins declared himself "proud" of Clare's spirit in the second-half. Twelve points down by the 50th minute, they outscored Kerry 0-8 to 0-2 over the remainder.
"I thought they gave us everything," said Collins. "We needed a goal. They (Kerry) didn't cough up that many goal chances to be fair. There were a couple of half-chances, but that was it."
In the second-half, Jamie Malone scored three points, and Cathal O'Connor and Brennan tested Kerry's defence, but their first-half policy of containment backfired.
"I thought that the long ball high into the full-forwards didn't work," admitted Collins.
"When we started to run at them I thought we got a lot of joy. But it wasn't meant to be that, it wasn't meant to be a constant barrage of high balls, it was just to be one every so often.
"We just tended to go long all the time, maybe it was because of the conditions. But they came out in the second-half and they really got stuck into them and showed what they were made of. You'd have to be proud."
Kerry finished with 13 men as 11 minutes of injury-time were played following a clash of heads between Sean O'Shea and Kevin Harnett. Both had to leave the field, but the Clare man looked worst off, having extensive treatment before departing on a stretcher.
Kerry lost David Moran to a black card after 17 minutes, for a trip, and when Tommy Walsh suffered a similar fate in second-half injury time Kerry had used up all their subs.
With Mark Griffin sent off on a second yellow card on 66 minutes they were relieved to hear the long whistle.
Kerry have injuries to occupy their minds as they prepare for Cork. James O'Donoghue went off with a suspected hamstring injury in the 52nd minute, having been a constant thorn in Clare's side and scoring the game's only goal near half-time. There were four other goal chances which went astray in the opening half, with Paul Geaney and O'Shea both hitting the post and Stephen O'Brien denied by a goal-line save from Conall Ó hÁiniféin.
Kerry are without Peter Crowley for the rest of the season, while they were also missing Jack Barry, Dara Moynihan and Paul Murphy, but they will hope to have a stronger hand for the Munster final.
Clare started Tubridy after he missed the Waterford match with an injury that has restricted him to minimal training. He kicked two glorious points, and set up Clare's first from play, but they didn't have enough ammunition to engineer a first Championship win over Kerry since 1992.
Scorers - Kerry: S O'Shea 0-5f, D Clifford 0-3 (1f), 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 (3f), D Tubridy (1f), J Malone 0-3 each, C O'Connor 0-1.
Kerry - S Ryan 7; J Foley 8, T Morley 7, T O'Sullivan 7; S Enright 7, J Sherwood 8, G Crowley 6; D Moran 6, D O'Connor 7; A Spillane 7, S O'Shea 7, S O'Brien 7; D Clifford 7, P Geaney 6, J O'Donoghue 8. Subs: M Griffin 5 for Moran (b/c 17 mins); G White 7 for Sherwood (half time); M Burns 7 for O'Brien (44); R Wharton 6 for Crowley (49); T Walsh 5 for O'Donoghue (inj 52); J Lyne 6 for O'Shea (inj 71).
Clare - S Ryan 8; G Kelly 7, C Brennan 7, K Harnett 6; S Collins 6, A Fitzgerald 7, C O hAinifein 7; S O'Donoghue 7, C O'Connor 8; G Brennan 8, E Cleary 7, J Malone 8; C O'Dea 7, D Tubridy 8, D Bohannon 6. Subs: G Cooney 7 for Bohannon (half time); D Ryan 6 for O hAinifein (b/c 41); K Malone 7 for O'Donoghue (49); E Collins 6 for S Collins (52); C Murray 6 for C Brennan (61); A Sweeney 6 for Harnett (inj 72).
ReF - J Molloy (Galway).