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O'Connor content with cup defence

It was too easy for an experimental Kerry side as they retained the title with a win over a very disappointing Clare outfit after an entertaining contest at the Dr Crokes Grounds, Killarney, on Saturday afternoon.

This was a worrying display for Clare boss Micheal McDermott, who was fielding near enough his strongest side with the exception of Garry Brennan and Ger Quinlan, while Kerry were without half their starting 15.

"That's the basis of the panel we will be using for the National League. We were missing Garry Brennan and Ger Quinlan who would be the fulcrum of our midfield area and that was an area we had trouble with today as Kerry dominated that sector," he said.

"We learned a lot from today's game because Kerry were the strongest opponents we have met to date, but I was encouraged the way we chased the game right to the final whistle."

Kerry boss Jack O'Connor was not getting too excited.

"It has been a competition that has been good for us this year and it's been a lot more productive than last year's campaign. At this time of the year, it's about introducing new lads to this environment more than anything, because it's a big step up for these lads from club football."

The result was never in doubt after Clare's initial scoring burst 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, with David Geaney posting Kerry's opening score.

Clare got a lifeline when midfielder Cathal O'Connor scored an opportunist goal in the 57th minute and, despite two late pointed frees from out-of-form Alan Clohessy, Kerry retained the cup with the minimum of fuss.

Scorers -- Kerry: D Geaney 0-6, D Moran 0-3 (0-2f 0-1 '45'), Darran O'Sullivan, D Walsh, M O'Donoghue, P Geaney 0-1 each. Clare: C O'Connor 1-1, A Clohessy 0-3 (0-2f), 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).

Ref -- C Lane (Cork).

Irish Independent