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Cathal O'Connor

Clare qualify for McGrath Cup final

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Clare 0-12 Kerry 0-9

CLARE qualified for the McGrath Cup final, which will be played on Friday January 22, following a three point win over Kerry in Killarney on Sunday afternoon. They last played in the final of this tournament in 2011 when they were beaten 0-13 to 1-7 by Kerry.
Playing in front of a crowd of 805 people, Clare faced a weak Kerry team. The All-Ireland finalists returned from holiday on Saturday and none featured on Sunday while Kerry clubs were involved in All-Ireland club competition on Sunday. League and regional championship club games were also played in Kerry over the weekend, which further restricted their options.
Clare had more first choice players on the field but again featured a number of younger players including Pearse Lillis, Kieran Malone, Cian O’Dea, Keelan Sexton and Damien Burke. The final will be played ten days before Clare’s opening division 3 fixture at home to Sligo and will provide them with their third competitive pre-season game.
Clare were not impressive in the opening half against Kerry and were 0-7 to 0-3 down at half time. They kicked their three point tally in the opening eleven minutes with Eoin Cleary pointing twice, one a classy score from play. He also pointed following a foul on Pearse Lillis while Cathal O’Connor, Clare’s outstanding player, kicked a 45 after a Keelan Sexton shot was blocked.
Gavin O’Grady, Jamie O’Sullivan, Padraig O’Connor and Jeff O’Donoghue pointed for Kerry who looked slick enough at times on the ball but their fitness levels were did not match Clare as the game wore on.
For the second successive game, Clare introduced David Tubridy from the bench and the Doonbeg man pointed three key scores, two from play. In fact Clare kicked five successive points and went ahead in the 21st minute when Seán Collins banged over a lead point from distance.
Clare upped it again though and points from Tubridy, O’Connor, Cleary and Martin O’Leary sealed a morale boosting win. To be frank, Clare expected to win this game, such was the lack of first team players lining out for Kerry. However Clare have now won two games in a week which will definitely prove helpful as the start of the league approaches on January 31.

After the game, Kerry manager Eamon Fitzmaurice revealed that former footballer of the year, Paul Galvin, has retired for the second time.

Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Manus Malone (Corofin), Gordon Kelly (Miltown), Enda Ralph (Ennistymon); Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare), Jamie Malone (Corofin), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora); Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen), Gary Brennan (Clondegad); Seán Collins (Cratloe), Enda Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Thomas Downes (Cooraclare); Eoin Cleary (Miltown), Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Kieran Malone (Miltown).

Subs: David Tubridy (Doonbeg) for Thomas Downes, Conor O’Halloran (Éire Óg) for Manus Malone (both half-time), Damien Burke (Cooraclare) for Enda Coughlan (39-inj), Graham Kelly (Miltown) for Enda Ralph (51), Martin O’Leary (Kilmihil) for Kieran Malone (53), Seán Haugh (O’Curry’s) for Keelan Sexton (62).

Scorers: Eoin Cleary (0-4, 0-1f), David Tubridy (0-3, 0-1f), Cathal O’Connor (0-2, 0-1 45), Keelan Sexton, Seán Collins, Martin O’Leary (0-1 each).

Wides: 10
Frees: 15
45: 1
Yellow cards: Cathal O’Connor, Gordon Kelly.

Kerry: Shane Murphy; Brian O’Beaglaoich, Ger Hartnett, Paul O’Sullivan; Pádraig O’Connor, Damien O’Sullivan, Tom O’Sullivan; Brendan O’Sullivan, Wayne Gutherie; Philip O’Connor, Jamie O’Sullivan, Shane O’Callaghan; Pa Joy, Gavin O’Grady, Jeff O’Donoghue.

Subs: Shaun Keane for Wayne Guthrie (45), Darragh O’Brien for Pa Joy (49), Kieran Crowley for Jamie O’Sullivan (52), Maurice Foley for Tom O’Sullivan (52), Tom O’Sullivan for Kieran Crowley (black card, 63), Jamie O’Sullivan for Shane O’Callaghan (64).
Scorers: Gavin O’Grady (0-3f), Jamie O’Sullivan (0-3, 0-1f), Jeff O’Donoghue (0-2, 0-1f), Pádraig O’Connor (0-1).
Wides: 5
Frees: 26
45s: 1
Yellow cards: Jamie O’Sullivan
Black card: Kieran Crowley
Referee: Michael Collins (Cork)

Owen Ryan
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Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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