Kerry 2-23 Clare 0-17
Without much effort and certainly no fuss Kerry have booked their place in the Munster football final, the only surprise in Killarney this afternoon being the announcement of who their opponents will be.
The general assumption that Cork would be back here on July 3rd was turned on its head when news emerged they’d lost to Tipperary: so Kerry will now face Tipperary instead, not necessarily with any assumption about the outcome there, either.
Nothing nearly as stirring here, nor a repeat of two years ago, when Clare ran Kerry to a relatively close four points.
Thanks to two goals from Colm “Gooch” Cooper and Stephen O’Brien inside the opening five minutes, Kerry laid down the foundation for the victory early on, then simply built on it brick by brick.
Cooper didn't necessarily even plan his, kicking what looked like a short-range point, tempting Clare goalkeeper Joe Hayes to move off his line intending to intervene. Only instead of fetching it the ball dropped over his hands and into the back of the Clare net. The game was about 80 seconds old.
Then, on five minutes exactly, O’Brien charged on goal with limited resistance and added Kerry’s second, his shot rocketing into the net with the help of the upright.
So, before they'd much time to settle into the task, Clare were faced with a mountain to climb on the scale of the daunting background that was MacGillycuddy's Reeks. They also lost one of their central forwards before half-time as well, when Podge Collins was black-carded for a kick on Tadhg Morley.
Gary Brennan and Cathal O'Connor were doing their best to drive things from midfield, but still, Clare were being softly killed on their own kick-outs, conceding a couple of points in the process. Brennan's two points and a neat sideline kick from Eoin Clearly were the highlights of their first half, which ended 2-10 to 0-9 in Kerry's favour.
Into the second half and Clare still had plenty to play for, only for Kerry to soon hit them with three more points without reply, adding some further daylight to an already clear scene.
With that the game fizzled out without any air of excitement, the most obvious positive for Kerry being the first appearance of the year of Anthony Maher, who came off the bench to score one of the closing points.
KERRY: 1 B Kelly; 2 S Enright, 4 K Young (0-1), 3 M Griffin; 5 B Begley, 6 P Crowley, 7 T Morley; 8 K Donaghy, 9 B Sheehan (capt) (0-2, both frees); 10 P Murphy (0-1), 11 C Cooper (1-3, one free), 12 D Walsh; 13 D O'Sullivan (0-2), P Geaney (0-5, one free), S O'Brien (1-5).
Subs: 18 M Ó Sé for Morley (47 mins), 17 D Moran (0-1) for Sheehan (49 mins), 22 J Lyne for Begley (52 mins), 20 BJ Keane (0-2) for O’Sullivan (54 mins), 21 M Geaney for Walsh (57 mins), 23 A Maher (0-1) for Donaghy (64 mins).
CLARE: 1 J Hayes; 2 D Ryan, 3 K Harnett, 4 M McMahon; 5 C O'Dea, 6 G Kelly, 7 S Collins; 8 G Brennan (0-2), 9 C O'Connor (0-1); 17 S McGrath, 10 J Malone, 13 E Cleary (0-3, one sideline, one free); 18 P Collins (0-1), 11 Keelan Sexton, 14 D Tubridy (0-7, four frees, two 45s).
Subs: 12 P Lillis (0-3) for P Collins (28 minutes, black card), 15 P Burke for S McGrath (45 mins), 21 S Hickey for S Collins (52 mins), 20 S Malone for O’Dea (61 mins), 23 D McMahon for Kelly (65 mins, black card).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)