Kingdom keep Clare at arm's length
Kerry 1-15 Clare 0-12
By the end of the match, which had 11 minutes of injury time due to a long delay when two players collided in the middle of the field, Clare were pressing Kerry and making a nuisance of themselves.
But it would be a distortion to say that Kerry were in any palpable danger. Gary Brennan moved in near the Kerry posts in the hope of getting the goal Clare needed to really unnerve their acclaimed visitors, but the ball he needed never came his way.
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Kerry played most of their football in the first half and, at times, the gap in class showed. They created five goal chances despite heavy rain and unsuitable conditions for handling and the kind of swift interchange play that they thrive on. Clare had a fourth-choice 'keeper in the teenage Stephen Ryan, due to a mounting injury crisis, but he did his fair share in denying them a goal until almost half-time when James O'Donoghue scored with a fine effort which beat Ryan to his left.
Last year Kerry crushed Clare in Killarney by 22 points, scoring 32 points despite unveiling seven debutants. This ended up being a scrappy affair with Clare raising their performance in the second half, after trailing by nine points at the break, driven on by Brennan and Jamie Malone, who kicked three points. But they didn't create a single clear goal chance and the daylight between the teams remained sufficient to keep Kerry manager Peter Keane from having palpitations on his first senior championship outing.
Clare deployed Cian O'Dea, named in the full-forward line, as an extra defender but Kerry were still opening them up and were good value for a lead of 1-9 to 0-3 at half-time. Even by then the situation looked irretrievable for the home team yet they picked up their game and drove at Kerry as the match wore on. Mark Griffin was sent off after picking up a second yellow card in the 66th minute, but Clare were unable to capitalise. At that point they were still eight points behind.
O'Donoghue had a fine match for Kerry until he went off injured in the second half and took the goal near half-time with a real ruthlessness, 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 the interval they ditched that plan and took Bohannon off.
David Tubridy started despite playing little football in the previous two months and he kicked Clare's 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, came in 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.
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 minutes of injury time being added. When Malone kicked his third point for Clare, it 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, extending the lead to seven.
Scorers - Kerry: S O'Shea 0-5 (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 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), G White for Sherwood (h-t), M Burns for O'Brien (44), R Wharton for Crowley (49), T Walsh for O'Donoghue (52), J Lyne for O'Shea (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 (h-t), 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 (72).
Referee: J Molloy (Galway).
Hurley fires double in Cork stroll
Cork 3-18 Limerick 0-6
It was almost all one-way traffic for Cork as they eased past Limerick at Páirc Uí Rinn last night and into the Munster final. Two goals in the opening five minutes and a third before the first quarter-hour had elapsed meant Ronan McCarthy's side dictated throughout, with a 3-8 to 0-2 half-time lead.
Limerick's Seán McSweeney could have goaled in the first minute but his shot hit the post, Cork goalkeeper Mark White, and then the post before bouncing away.
Then Cork hit their stride. Mark Collins opened the scoring with a free and Castlehaven clubmate Brian Hurley followed that with a fourth-minute goal following a good pass from Ruairí Deane. A minute later, Deane and Hurley combined again to make it 2-1 to 0-0. Even at that early stage the game had a look of inevitability about it.
Eoghan McSweeney marked his debut with a point and John O'Rourke and Collins were also on target. A third goal came as Deane made it 3-4 to 0-0 on 12 minutes after good work from Killian O'Hanlon and McSweeney. By the 22nd minute, all six starting forwards had scored from play, with Collins's fourth of the evening opening up a 3-7 to 0-0 lead.
The Rebels would go 12 minutes without a score, and Séamus O'Carroll's two points opened Limerick's account. When Paul Kerrigan was fouled for a penalty on 33, Hurley's effort came back off the post. Collins rounded off the first-half scoring as Cork retired with a 15-point advantage and he had three more in the opening seven minutes of the restart.
Limerick goalkeeper Donal O'Sullivan, who had saved well from Deane in the first half, did double their tally with a pair of 45s, but the rhythm had gone out of the game.
But Cork never looked in danger of being denied their grip on the game and captain Ian Maguire and Matthew Taylor got on the scoresheet for them. Taylor's point was a goal attempt which O'Sullivan - who finished with three, his team's top scorer - had to tip over.
Wing-back Taylor followed that with another point and sub Stephen Sherlock also got in on the act, while McSweeney rounded things off with his third in injury time.
Cork face a far tougher test against Kerry on June 22, but they can be satisfied with the night's work.
Scorers - Cork: M Collins 0-9 (5f), B Hurley 2-0, R Deane 1-0, E McSweeney 0-3, M Taylor 0-2, P Kerrigan, I Maguire, S Sherlock, J O'Rourke 0-1 each. Limerick: D O'Sullivan 0-3 (0-2 45, 0-1f), S O'Carroll 0-2, J Lee 0-1f.
Cork: M White; N Walsh, J Loughrey, K Flahive; L O'Donovan, T Clancy, M Taylor; I Maguire, K O'Hanlon; E McSweeney, R Deane, P Kerrigan; J O'Rourke, B Hurley, M Collins. Subs: A Browne for Loughrey (39), S Sherlock for Hurley (45), L Connolly for O'Rourke (46), K O'Driscoll for Deane (52), K O'Donovan for Clancy (57), R O'Toole for Maguire (61).
Limerick: D O'Sullivan; B Fanning, S O'Dea, C McSweeney; P Maher, I Corbett, G Brown; D Treacy, T Childs; M Fitzgibbon, C Fahy, A Enright; S McSweeney, S O'Carroll, J Lee. Subs: P Nash for Enright, J Naughton for S McSweeney, T McCarthy for Brown (all half-time), P de Brún for Fahy (45), G Noonan for C McSweeney, R Lynch for Fitzgibbon (both 56).
Referee: B Cawley (Kildare).
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