KERRY…… 3-18 CLARE………….3-7
By Michael O Connor.
Football went home as Miltown and their excellent facilities hosted this Munster junior football final between Clare and visitors Kerry. The Willie Clancy festival added a cultural theme to the evening as guests from all the country and beyond wandered over from the music to hear footballs whistling through the air. Clare accounted for Waterford in the semi final as Kerry accounted for Cork to book their places in the West Clare venue.
Credit for the efforts of Miltown Malbay GAA Club in hosting the game at Hennessy Park must go to former club and county chairman Michael Malty McDonagh who was also Liaison officer with the Clare junior football team. The presence of the Tulla pipe band to lead the teams around added an extra little lustre to the event. Kilmurry Ibrickane were the powerhouse of this team providing six of the starting 15.
Conor Cox had the opening score chance from a free but was well wide with just a minutes action elapsed. Mike O Donoghue got Kerry off the mark after a long ball sent in by Alan O Sullivan was caught expertly as Shane Hickey was beaten. After an injury stoppage Kerry had their second score with Niall O Mahony on target after being set up by O Sullivan once more. Clare were finally on the scoreboard after Noel DOwnes was fouled and this allowed Killian Malone the chance to open the home side account as Clare were second fiddle at midfield in the opening exchanges. Clare drew level on the 10th minute with a smart effort by Noel Downes as Clare were beginning to handle themselves better.
A major stroke of fortune when Clare struck the net after Noel Downes miskicked a cross from Paudge McMahon but the ball found the net past the outrushing Sean Og O Ciardubhain. Kerry hit back through Mike O Donoghue before home town boy Seanie Malone responded in kind for Clare before Kilfenora’s Killian Malone sent Clare four clear with his second free. Conor Cox was off target once again as Clare were under pressure when Kerry kicked in high fast ball on the counter attack.
Two rapid fire scores from Conor Cox and Mike O Donoghue reduced the Clare lead to two points by the 20th minute as the home side were in difficulty at midfield. This was hidden by Clare getting a second goal when Paul Reidy burst through and his effort fell to Killian Malone who lifted the net. Seconds later Clare had another goal chance as Paudge McMahon was clean through but his well struck effort was saved on the line by full back Pat Corridan.
A well taken three man movement ended with Paul O Donoghue blasting past Pierse de Loughrey in the 27th minute as Clare dithered in possession at midfield. Clare were shellshocked by this goal and within ninety seconds had conceded two more scores as Conor Cox (free) and Mike O Donoghue from play drew the sides level (2-4) to (1-7) entering injury time. The last attack of the half fell to Clare who won a 45 that was beautifully converted by Paudge McMahon as Clare retired (2-5) to (1-7) ahead at the interval.
Clare introduced the experienced Evan Talty for Enda Ralph as Kerry were level three minutes into the new half as Conor Cox set up David O Callaghan only for Paul Reidy to restore the Clare lead a minute later. Chris Dunning replaced Seanie Malone as Paul O Donoghue gave Kerry parity once more before Conor Cox sent the ball over the bar from a free as Kerry assumed the lead for the first time in half an hour.
Kerry were to the fore in the second half and Clare were fortunate not to have conceded more in the third quarter as solid defending and concession of frees by Kerry let the home side off the hook. Two scores in a minute from Conor Cox surged Kerry (1-12) to (2-6) ahead. The game ended as an event in one minute as Darren Hickey was sent off and David O Callaghan struck for two well taken goals as Clare let in 2-7 in 16 minutes when Mike O Donoghue and Niall O Se continued to turn the screw on Clare with just a solitary response from Paul Reidy. David O Callaghan.
The game ended in a whimper as Kerry continued their total dominance at midfield inwards. David O Callaghan and Hickson missed real goal chances as Clare surrendered disappointly after a promising first half. The last score of the game was a consolation goal for David Ryan as Kerry began to celebrate.
KERRY: Sean Og O Ciardubhain, Kieran Quirke, Pat Corridan, Kevin O Dwyer, Michael Brennan, Jack Sherwood, Marcus Mangan, Andrew Garnett, Alan O Sullivan, Niall O Mahony (0-1), Niall O Se (0-1), Paul O Donoghue (1-2), David O Callaghan (2-2), Mike O Donoghue (0-6), Conor Cox (0-5). Subs: Jason Hickson for Cox, Brendan Poff for Mahony, Brendan O Mahoney for Quirke, Niall Fitzgerald for Mangan, Edmund Walsh for Garnett
CLARE: Pierse DeLoughrey, Darren Hickey, Shane Hickey, Enda Ralph, Martin Oige Murphy, Paul O Connor, Stephen Tierney, Keith King, Conor Ryan, Ian McInerney, Paul Reidy (0-2), Seanie Malone (0-1), Paudge McMahon (0-1), Noel Downes (1-1), Killian Malone (1-2). Subs: Evan Talty for Ralph, Chris Dunning for Malone, David Ryan (1-0) for McMahon, Conor Cormican for Ryan,
REFEREE: Brian Tyrell (Tipperary)