No test for Kerry as feeble Banner ripped to shreds
All-Ireland SFC rd 4 qualifier
Aside from the record-breakers (Colm Cooper and Tomas O Se) and the heartbreakers (Paul Galvin driving the Kerry faithful to distraction once more), it was sometimes hard to remember that this was supposed to be a competitive contest.
No, it really was.
Certainly, Clare's memory was addled for several longueurs of a depressingly empty affair which will serve to strengthen Munster Council's opinion that they must proceed to seed their provincial draw.
That's another day's work, aided here by Clare's inability to put in a shift of any reasonable degree of competence.
As a strong wind swept through the sun-kissed Gaelic Grounds on Saturday, Clare's challenge slithered between the cracks of the liberal approach that swamped them against Cork and the defensive numbness that undid them here.
At times the Banner manned the barricades with 13 men behind the ball -- and if that didn't work, which it didn't, they tried 14, which didn't either as Kerry's patient, cerebral approach allied to their hunger, eased them through the evening's shift.
After the ardour expended in Killarney against perennial nemesis Tyrone, this was akin to an elaborate challenge match; albeit that might be a tad unfair to those fabled, secretive affairs of the countryside.
With a cumulative 49-point winning margin harvested from their last four championship meetings, the Kingdom's dominance barely raised eyebrows, and some of the more severe Kerry crowd berated the bookies for being over generous with their 1/50 odds.
Clare toyed with the idea of engaging neutral interest in this contest for as far advanced a stage as the 20th minute when the excellent Ger Quinlan, contesting the only vaguely competitive sector in midfield, scored his second point to bring the minimum between the sides at 0-4 to 0-3.
Clare had won the toss and played with the hefty wind and, as the excellent Gary Brennan snaffled first the throw-in, then the next kick-out, we settled back for what we hoped would be an enticing appointment.
Kerry were in giddily flirtatious mode, though, and the appreciable levels of hunger that accompanied the undoubted class of their front six, and marauding, dominant half-back line, saw them streak away by the half-time cuppa.
From 0-4 to 0-3 up in that 20th minute, a run of eight points to half-time put the game out of sight; twice Kerry spurned goal opportunities that on another, more examining day, they may have contemplated.
Just to accentuate the argument, they tacked on another 1-6 without reply at the start of the second half, and the small pocket of Clare folk, who arrived dreaming of 1992, were instead dry-mouthed in terror as thoughts of the Milltown Malbay massacre entered their heads.
It was then that Kerry emptied the bench, with Jack O'Connor allowing Darran O'Sullivan and Kieran O'Leary to stretch their legs; the manager would have been heartened at how Donnacha Walsh had coaxed himself back into form before leaving the fray.
Whether Galvin should have done so voluntarily, rather than volcanically, was a matter that will vex the management.
The rest of the game was like a lead balloon, with Clare enthusiastically tipping off after the sending-off to begin another game of ball for the benefit of latecomers.
They still lost this forgettable skirmish -- from the time of Galvin's sending-off -- by 1-3 to 1-2.
The two record-breakers, Cooper and O Se, will remember this game with affection. Cooper topped Mikey Sheehy's all-time championship scoring record with his 1-4 here, beating Sheehy's previous record of 29 goals and 205 points.
And O Se made his 82nd championship appearance, surpassing his brother Darragh's record.
Kerry's class will remain longest in the memory.
Scorers -- Kerry: C Cooper 1-4, J O'Donoghue 1-3, B Sheehan 0-4 (3f, 1 '45'), K Donaghy 0-3, K O'Leary, Declan O'Sullivan 0-2 each, P Galvin, A Maher, M O Se, D Walsh 0-1 each. Clare: D Russell 1-1, D Tubridy 0-3f, G Quinlan 0-2.
Kerry -- B Kealy 7; M O Se 8, A O'Mahony 8, S Enright 7; T O Se 8, E Brosnan 9, K Young 8; A Maher 8, B Sheehan 9; P Galvin 4, Declan O'Sullivan 8, D Walsh 8; J O'Donoghue 9, C Cooper 9, K Donaghy 9. Subs: Darran O'Sullivan 7 for D Walsh (46), K O'Leary 7 for Declan O'Sullivan (46), J Buckley 7 for A Maher (52), J Lyne 7 for K Young (58), BJ Keane 7 for J O'Donoghue (52).
Clare -- J Hayes 7; K Harnett 4, B Duggan 4, L Healy 4; E Coughlan 5, G Kelly 5, J Hayes 6; G Brennan 7, G Quinlan 7; S Brennan 6, S McGrath 7, A Clohessy 5; R Donnelly 4, D Tubridy 7, M O'Shea 6. Subs: G Kelly 4 for S McGrath (33), N Browne 5 for M O Se (h-t), D Russell 7 for A Clohessy (50), C Talty 5 for G Kelly (51).
REF -- M Deegan (Laois).