O'Donoghue stars on return as 14-man Kerry overcome spirited Clare
Kerry 1-18 Clare 1-12
An inspired James O’Donoghue second half performance steered 14 man Kerry into a clash with Cork in next month’s Munster final.
Kerry struggled for traction early in the first half and found themselves down a man when Donnchadh Walsh picked up a second yellow card just before the interval.
And with an extra man and the wind to play with after the break, Clare looked well placed to repeat the heroics of 25 years ago when the Banner last toppled the Kingdom.
However, despite conceding the first two points after the restart, James O’Donoghue kicked four excellent points from play to make sure they’d meet the Rebels in next month’s decider.
The home side made the brighter start and after 18 minutes found themselves 1-4 to 0-2 points up.
David Tubridy kicked two fine points and the Doonbeg man was at it again when he converted a penalty after Walsh took down Keelan Sexton.
Kerry would slowly feel their way into the game and O’Donoghue’s first point from play brought the sides level before Kerry had a big penalty shout of their own denied.
Walsh seemed to be tugged after being found by O’Donoghue. Padraig Hughes waved the shouts away and just minutes later, Walsh picked up his second yellow card for a hit on Martin McMahon. In all, five players picked up yellow cars in the opening half in a game played in very greasy conditions.
A Paul Geaney free would edge Kerry into the lead for the first time in added time but Clare grabbed their first score in 18 minutes at the death to ensure the sides went in level at the break (1-5 to 0-8).
Clare would have their chances in the second half, not least when Jamie Malone hit the crossbar when a goal would have put them four up. But Kerry had chances of their own with Geaney punching to the post when a goal looked on. And despite Clare’s brave effort, Kerry’s power shone through with Stephen O’Brien grabbing a brilliant individual goal late on to ensure Kerry’s safe passage.
SCORERS - Kerry: J O’Donoghue 0-9 (5f), P Geaney 0-4 (2f), S O’Brien 1-1, A Maher, S Enright M Geaney, B Sheehan (1f) 0-1 each.
Clare: D Tubridy 1-3 (1-0 pen), E Cleary 0-6 (4f), J Malone, G Brennan (1f), C Russell 0-1 each.
Kerry: B Kelly; F Fitzgerald, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, T Morley, P Murphy; J Barry, A Maher; M Geaney, K McCarthy, D Walsh; BJ Keane, P Geaney, J O’Donoghue SUBS: S O’Brien for Keane (HT), J Savage for McCarthy (45), J Lyne for M Geaney (56), K Donaghy for Maher (61), B Sheehan for Barry (64), J Buckley for P Geaney (68).
Clare: Joe Hayes; D Ryan, K Hartnett, M McMahon; P Lillis, G Kelly, C Russell; G Brennan, C O”Connor; J Malone, S Collins, S Brennan; E Cleary, D Tubridy, K Sexton SUBS: C O’Dea for Brennan (50), John Hayes for Lillis (55), E Collins for Harnett (66), G O’Brien for O’Connor (70)
Ref: P Hughes (Armagh)