Kerry proved far too strong for a disappointing Clare side without ever having to hit top gear in an entertaining contest at the Dr Crokes Grounds, Lewis Road, Killarney yesterday afternoon.
The result was never in doubt despite a Clare scoring burst that saw them jump 0-3 to 0-1 clear inside the opening five minutes, thanks to points from David Tubridy, Cathal O'Connor and wing-back John Hayes. David Geaney posted Kerry's opening score.
However, that was as good as it got for Clare, as Kerry assumed complete control at midfield where David Moran was the dominant figure throughout, ably assisted by Seamus Scanlon.
Clare were dreadful in attack and with Marc O Se and Aidan O'Mahony tasting their first action of the season for Kerry, the visitors failed to score for 29 minutes of the opening half.
Kerry, thanks to David Geaney, who added three first-half points, and two frees from Moran, led 0-7 to 0-4 at the break. With Moran catching everything at midfield, Kerry were still in control, though squandering their chances up front did not help.
After an early Niall Browne point, Clare just failed to fire up front and they missed three kickable close-in frees as Kerry led 0-12 to 0-5 with just nine minutes remaining.
Clare got a lifeline when midfielder Cathal O'Connor scored a goal in the 57th minute but despite two late, pointed frees from out-of-form Alan Clohessy, Kerry retained the McGrath Cup with the minimum of fuss.
Scorers -- Kerry: D Geaney 0-6, D Moran 0-3 (2f, 1 '45'), Darran O'Sullivan, D Walsh, M O'Donoghue, P Geaney 0-1 each. Clare: C O'Connor 1-1, A Clohessy 0-3 (2f), John Hayes, D Tubridy, N Browne 0-1 each.
Kerry: T Mac An tSaoir; P Reidy, M O Se, P O'Connor; A O'Mahony, T O Se, J Lyne; S Scanlon, D Moran; G Sayers, Darran O'Sullivan, D Walsh; D Geaney, M O'Donoghue, P O'Donoghue. Subs: B O'Grady for G Sayers (h-t), A Fitzgerald for M O'Donoghue (h-t), Danny O'Sullivan for P O'Connor (55), E Hickson for A O'Mahony (57), P McCarthy for T O'Se (62).
Clare: J Hayes; L Healy, B Duggan, M McMahon; Graham Kelly, Gordon Kelly John Hayes; M Foran C O'Connor; D Daly, D Tubridy, N Browne; R Donnelly, T Ryan, A Clohessy. Subs: N White for Graham Kelly (32), S Brennan for D Tubridy (53), G Fannin for B Duggan (53), A Cahill for D Daly (60), C Ryan for T Ryan (60).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).
Sunday Indo Sport