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A clearly disappointed Cormac Murray of Clare after their Munster Senior Fooball final against Kerry at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly

Kerry retained Munster crown but plucky Clare captured home hearts

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Munster Senior Football Championship Final

Kerry 0-23 Clare 1-13

SUCH a historic occasion wasnt matched by a home upset but Clare did test Kerrys resolve on their way to a record 85th Munster Senior Football crown in front of 12,059 in Cusack Park, Ennis, writes Eoin Brennan.

In what was the first time in 87 years that Clare contested back-to-back provincial finals, the hosts admirably managed to halve last years deficit with only half of the same personnel in what was a hugely encouraging battling display from Mark Fitzgeralds side.

Clares plunkiness was ultimately superceded by Kerrys vast experience as in contrast the Kingdom possessed 17 of the 20 players from the 2023 decider. However, not content with moral victories, Clare commendably went out to win this final, not contain the perennial superpowers as evidenced by carving out two glorious goal opportunites either side of half-time.

Trailing by 0-10 to 0-07, Clares best player Dermot Coughlan broke through Kerrys last line and went for goal rather than the safe option of a point, forcing goalkeeper Shane Murphy to parry his shot to safety on Kerrys way to a 0-11 to 0-07 interval cushion.

Undeterred, Clare went for the jugular once more from the throw-in which was snatched by Brian McNamara who played a one-two with Ciaran Downes before his powerful effort was excellently kept out by a full length save from Murphy.

Ciaran Downes did convert the resulting 45 but it soon became clear that Clare needed to take those chances in order to legitimately puish the holders all the way. Instead, a relieved Kerry flexed their muscles with nine of the next twelve points including braces for chief marksmen David Clifford, Sean OShea and Tony Brosnan to ease 0-20 to 0-11 clear by the hour mark.

The home storm wasnt quite weathered just yet though as a superb Daniel Walsh point from the left wing was boosted by an outstanding solo goal from centre-back Ikem Ugwueru who slalomed his way through from 50 metres before nestling his low shot past Murphy to slash the arrears to just five by the 63rd minute.

It was the spark the sizeable home crowd needed but Clares momentum never blossomed any further despite eight minutes of additional time.

Indeed, Jack OConnors side shut up shop while Sean OShea (2) and Paul Geaney closed out the contest amidst a Cormac Murray blocked shot at the death as Kerry garnered their fourth consecutive Munster crown.

Kerry: Shane Murphy (Dr. Crokes); Paul Murphy (Rathmore), Jason Foley(Ballydonoghue), Tom OSullivan (Dingle); Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht), Tadhg Morley (Templenoe), Gavin White(Dr. Crokes); Diarmuid OConnor (Na Gaeil), Joe OConnor(Austin Stacks); Dara Moynihan (Spa), Paudie Clifford (Fossa), Cillian Burke(Milltown/Castlemaine); Tony Brosnan (Dr. Crokes), David Clifford (Fossa), Sean OShea (Kenmare Shamrocks)

Subs: Mike Breen (Beaufort) for White (50, BS), Paul Geaney (Dingle) for Moynihan (57), Stephen OBrien (Kenmare Shamrocks) for Burke (57), Barry Dan OSullivan (Dingle) for J. OConnor (58), Dylan Casey (Austin Stacks) for Ó Beaglaoich(62), Killian Spillane(Templenoe) for Brosnan (67)

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Scorers: Sean OShea (0-9, 4f, 145, 1m); David Clifford (0-4, 1f, 1m); Tony Brosnan (0-3); Paudie Clifford (0-2); Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Tom OSullivan, Jason Foley, Dara Moynihan, Paul Geaney (0-1 each)

Clare: Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks); Cillian Brennan (Clondegad), Manus Doherty (Éire Óg), Ronan Lanigan (Éire Óg); Alan Sweeney (St Breckans), Ikem Ugwueru (Éire Óg), Cillian Rouine (Ennistymon); Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels), Brian McNamara (Cooraclare); Gavin Murray (Éire Óg), Dermot Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Emmet McMahon (Kildysart), Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey), Ciaran Downes (Kilmihil)

Subs: Joe McGann (St Breckans) for Murray (15-17, BS), McGann for Murray (54), Micheál Garry (Cooraclare) for Sweeney (56), Cormac Murray (St Josephs Miltown) for Downes (60), Mark McInerney (Éire Óg) for Coughlan (67), Darren Nagle (Liscannor) for Ugwueru ((74)

Scorers: Emmet McMahon (0-5, 4f); Ikem Ugwueru (1-0); Aaron Griffin, Ciaran Downes (1f, 145) (0-2 each); Gavin Murray, Dermot Coughlan, Daniel Walsh, Mark McInerney (0-1 each)

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)

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