Kerry’s new generation barely break sweat against Clare
Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side booked their place in the Munster final with record points
Clare’s Gary Brennan and Jack Barry of Kerry compete for the ball during their Munster SFC semi-final. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Kerry 0-32 Clare 0-10
It may not have been the Kerry snowflake generation blowing up a storm but in sporting terms Fitzgerald Stadium on a balmy June Sunday was as good a location as any for Eamonn Fitzmaurice to send out a team without baggage that someday he hopes will reach the promised land.
What a seismic change for Kerry supporters to witness a team with seven Championship debutants, eight changes in personnel since their last abysmal championship outing against Mayo. There was not a player over 30 in the team while two teenagers ushered in of a new batch of Kerry footballers, many off an assembly line that produced a rich harvest of four All-Ireland Minor titles in a row.
In truth they didn’t disappoint as they blew Clare away with chaos and carnage up front as Kerry ran up a record score of 0-32, courtesy of 11 different scorers. Clare were caught in the headlights and were powerless to do anything about it.
Their crestfallen manager Colm Collins was gracious in defeat. “Yes you have to compliment the opposition, fine display, some excellent football, great lines of runs, playing the football into the best position. You’d be totally disappointed with the way we played. Everything we talked about went out the window, started well with a couple of points but then started to take wrong options, shooting from stupid places. And when they started to go ahead we didn’t react at all, we weren’t tracking runners, our defence was under pressure, and then we were defending from behind, which you can’t do with quality forwards.
“It’s vital if you are going up against forwards of that calibre you have got to make the primary ball a contest, and we didn’t in too many areas. There were times where we did win possession but instead of attacking we stopped and turned back and gave them time to reset.
We thought preparation went very well, today before the game went smack smooth, it’s one of those days, and I’m at odds to explain that display. “
Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice was happy that his side had delivered.
“I just think we played well. There is massive credit going to the players. We played well and I’d say we won most battles on the field. The lads showed what they are all about.
“It’s great to get the lads, get them football. David Clifford was a minor last year, but with the exception of him, all the others have been training with us. A lot of them would have had last summer and many of them would have been involved in 2016.
“They have been developing away in the background, and they were ready. They were ready to play today. They’ve been chomping at the bit, looking for a chance.
“They have awareness too; all you have to do is look at the experienced players that weren’t playing today, that if you don’t take your chance you mightn’t get a second one.
“A lot of credit is due to the debutants. They have a lot of big-game experience, and they played a lot of big games in the league against Division One opposition. They were ready.”
The game itself was over after 20 minutes as Kerry raced 0-8 to 0-3 clear thanks to some mesmerising forward movement with Sean O’Shea (3), Paul Geaney (2), Micheál Burns, Stephen O’Brien and David Clifford’s first SFC point in the 11th minute.
Clare were winning in midfield with Gary Brennan and Cathal O’Connor supplying plenty of ball to the Clare forward line but they never punished Kerry and only had points from Eoin Cleary, Pearse Lillis and David Tubridy to show for their efforts.
Jack Barry settled at midfield and with Stephen O’Brien and Paul Murphy attacking down the left flank, Kerry added eight more before the break and retired 0-16 to 0-4 in front.
The second half was a replica of the first as the Kerry attack continued to add to Clare’s misery adding another 0-16 for a record points tally.
Paul Geaney, James O’Donoghue and Man of the Match Stephen O’Brien were unstoppable and even when the subs came in, Barry John Keane chipped in with three from play while Mikey Geaney, Anthony Maher, Darran O’Sullivan got one each.
Jamie Malone tried his best for Clare, while Gordon Kelly did a good job on Clifford but overall this was a turkey shoot and the Kerry fans will be pleased with such an emphatic start to the championship of 2018.
KERRY: S Murphy; J Foley, P Crowley, R Shanahan; P Murphy, T Morley, G White; D Moran, J Barry (0-1); M Burns (0-2), S O’Shea (0-7, 0-4 frees), S O’Brien (0-3); D Clifford (0-2, 0-1 free), P Geaney (0-7, 0-1 free), J O’Donoghue (0-4, 0-2 frees).
Subs: M Geaney (0-1) for M Burns (46), B J Keane (0-3) for J O’Donoghue (53), A Maher (0-1) for D Moran (57), B Ó Beaglaoich for R Shanahan (57), D O’Sullivan (0-1, 0-1 free) for D Clifford (60), K Donaghy for S O’Shea (64).
CLARE: E Tubridy; G Kelly, C Brennan, E Collins; C O’Dea, A Fitzgerald, P Lillis (0-1); G Brennan, C O’Connor; K Malone, E Cleary (0-5, 0-4 frees), J Malone (0-2); C Ó nAinfein , K Sexton, D Tubridy (0-2, 0-1 free).
Subs: G O’Brien for K Malone (45), E Courtney for D Tubridy (53), G Cooney for K Sexton (57), E O’Connor for C Ó nAinfein (59), C Finucane for C O’Dea (66).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).