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Eoin Cleary scored 0-5 from play for Clare against Limerick. Photograph by John Kelly.

Clare let glorious opportunity slip

Kerry 1-18 Clare 1-12

CLARE let slip a glorious opportunity to beat Kerry for the first time since 1992 at Cusack Park on Sunday. The home county made a great start and playing into a strong breeze, they were tied with the Munster champions at half-time. On top of that, Donnchadh Walsh was sent off, on a double yellow card, for Kerry two minutes before the interval. The Kerry wing forward was dismissed for a foul on Martin McMahon. The teams were level, 1-5 to 0-8 at half-time, in a game which was watched by an attendance of 5,786.

The first half was very competitive and featured seven yellow and one red card. Gary Brennan set the tone right from the throw in when the Clare captain cut through the Kerry defence from the throw in. He laid off to David Tubridy who fired over a sublime, left footed point. When Tubridy goaled a 13th minute penalty, which was won by Keelan Sexton, Clare led 1-3 to 0-2. Jamie Malone added a point to extend Clare’s lead by the 18th minute. However Kerry, who had the breeze, fought their way back into it with four James O’Donoghue points, while Paul Geaney added two. Kerry were reduced to 14 players when Donnchadh Walsh was shown a second yellow, a minute before half-time, when the wing forwarded fouled Clare’s Martin McMahon. Kerry briefly led but Ciaran Russell, attacking from wing back, equalised just before the interval.

Backed by a strong breeze, Clare put over the opening two points of the second half with Eoin Cleary and Cathal O’Connor firing over frees won by Gary Brennan.

However the game turned on an incident nine minutes into the second half when a Jamie Malone shot hit the Kerry crossbar and ended up spinning wide. At that stage Clare led 1-8 to 0-10 and a goal at that juncture, would have rattled Kerry further.

The Munster champions responded with a points from man of the match James O’Donoghue, Stephen O’Brien, Anthony Maher and Shane Enright. Stephen O’Brien, who impressed after being introduced at half-time, netted Kerry’s goal three minutes from full-time. While Clare had an extra man, O’Brien walked through the heart of the Clare defence before goaling.

Kerry showed their experience when a lesser team could have panicked. While Gary Brennan was outstanding in the first half, Jack Barry came more into in as the game developed, while James O’Donoghue looked very sharp from play and frees for Éamon Fitzmaurice’s team.

David Tubridy pointed three top class scores, while his penalty was very coolly struck home. However the supply of ball to the Doonbeg man in the second half was not good. In fact, all too often, the Clare full forward line was out of position as Clare held onto possession out the field and did not seem to have a direct option to hit, although they had the breeze behind them.

Clare now await the winners of the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers, who will join the beaten provincial semi-finalists in the round two draw.

Kerry: Brian Kelly; Fionn Fitzgerald (captain), Mark Griffin, Shane Enright (0-1); Peter Crowley, Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy; Jack Barry, Anthony Maher (0-1); Michael Geaney (0-1), Kevin McCarthy, Donnchadh Walsh; Barry John Keane, Paul Geaney (0-4, 2f), James O’Donoghue (0-9, 0-4f).

Subs: Stephen O’Brien (1-1) for Barry John Keane (half-time), Jack Savage for Kevin McCarthy (45), Jonathan Lyne for Michael Geaney (52), Kieran Donaghy for Anthony Maher (61), Bryan Sheehan (0-1f) for Jack Barry (64), Johnny Buckley for Paul Geaney (68).

Clare: Joe Hayes; Gordon Kelly, Kevin Harnett, Martin McMahon; Pearse Lillis, Dean Ryan, Ciaran Russell (0-1); Gary Brennan (captain), Cathal O’Connor (0-1f); Jamie Malone (0-1), Seán Collins, Shane Brennan; Eoin Cleary (0-6, 4f), David Tubridy (1-3), Keelan Sexton.

Subs: Cian O’Dea for Shane Brennan (50), John Hayes for Pearse Lillis (56), Eoghan Collins for Kevin Harnett (66), Gearóid O’Brien for Cathal O’Connor (70).

Referee: Pádraig Hughes (Armagh).

About Peter O'Connell

West Clare native Peter O'Connell has worked for The Clare Champion for 12 years and covers everything from sport, especially GAA, news, features and has been even known to branch into the fashion scene on occasion.

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