Kerry ready to call a halt to Clare’s fairytale campaign

Banner County in bonus territory but Croke Park far more the Kingdom’s domain

Clare’s David Tubridy in action against Sligo. He has posed a threat in attack along with Eoin Cleary. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Clare’s David Tubridy in action against Sligo. He has posed a threat in attack along with Eoin Cleary. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final: Kerry v Clare, Croke Park, Sunday, 2.0 (RTÉ 1)

Clare took a big beating in Killarney back in June but have restored themselves in a classic qualifier narrative with a series of victories over teams from each of the top three divisions, culminating in last week’s impressive dispatch of Roscommon.

To that extent they have already made their history this season and will be under little pressure on Sunday.

Kerry are a work in progress. Their championship has been predicated on the need to remedy the manifest deficiencies of last April’s league final, primarily the lack of movement and pace that was ultimately exposed by Dublin.

For all the talk of Kerry’s great advantage in travelling a track to the All-Ireland semi-finals that has featured the restricted itinerary of Clare and Tipperary, it is obvious that Eamonn Fitzmaurice would have liked to road-test his putative improvements in more demanding conditions than double-digit victories.

Rookies Brian Ó Beaglaoich and Tadhg Morley have added some zip at wing back but at this stage Kerry will be anxious to roll out their first-choice centrefield of David Moran and Anthony Maher for some much needed game time.

In that context at least there’ll be no reservations about the opposition as Gary Brennan and the reprieved Cathal O’Connor, who had his red card from the Roscommon match rescinded during the week, have established themselves as the form pairing of the championship but their least assured display was the first day against Kerry.

Manager Colm Collins referred during the week to the terrible start they made in Killarney, gifting Kerry 1-2 and then conceding a second goal all in the first five minutes.

But there was some solace in the ability to score 17 points and a strong feeling too that a couple of goals had been left behind.

Black card

They will also hope not to lose Podge Collins to an early black card. After his dual exertions last week it’s not clear what his role will be but his work-rate and the energy is important to the team.

Displays in recent weeks have been encouraging with David Tubridy and Eoin Cleary (a twin of Clare senior hurler, Conor) on song up front.

Problems are more likely to arise at the back, as Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue continue to pose a big threat in the Kerry attack.

There is also the fact that although Clare have the added comfort of a great display in the Division Three league final victory over Kildare back in April, Croke Park at this stage of the year is far more of a Kerry domain.

The Lowdown

Previously: The counties met just seven weeks ago in Killarney with Kerry coming out on top, 2-23 to 0-17.

You bet: Kerry 1/33 Clare 10/1 and the draw at 33/1.

Injuries: Colm Cooper, Michael Geaney and Johnny Buckley have been ruled out for Kerry.

KERRY: B Kelly; S Enright, M Griffin, K Young (capt); B Ó Beaglaoich, P Crowley, T Morley; K Donaghy; D Moran; S O'Brien, P Murphy, D Walsh; D O'Sullivan, P Geaney, J O'Donoghue.

CLARE (probable): J Hayes; S Hickey, K Hartnett, M McMahon; C O’Dea, G Kelly, D Ryan; G Brennan, C O’Connor; J Malone, S Collins, P Lillis; E Cleary, D Tubridy, K Sexton.

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

Just the ticket: Stand €30, terrace €20 and juveniles €5 – €10 rebate concessions for students and senior citizens in Cusack and Davin Stands.

Verdict: Kerry

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