CLARE finally banished their championship hoodoo at the grade following a facile 2-20 to 0-15 victory over Kerry in Austin Stack Park in Tralee this evening, writes Eoin Brennan.
A slick first half display crowned by a late blitz of goals through Oisin O’Donnell and Shane Punch allied to six Diarmuid Cahill points from play ensured an unassailable 2-15 to 0-05 half-time cushion.
However, one would be forgiven for thinking that the teams swapped jerseys at the break as Kerry snatched the whip hand on the turnover and deservedly outscored a rudderless Banner by 0-10 to 0-05.
Not that there was ever any doubt about the result but it certainly left a bitter aftertaste that will need to be rectified by next Monday when Sean Doyle’s side make the much shorter trip to the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick for a Shannonside derby semi-final showdown.
Strong displays from Shane Punch and Oisin O’Donnell were accentuated by the constant threat of Diarmuid Cahill and Conner Hegarty as Clare eased through the gears early on.
Despite being without senior panelists Mark Rodgers, Cian Galvin and Shane Meehan, Clare grabbed the first six points of the tie, three from Punch, and would never look back over their shoulders thereafter.
0-9 to 0-3 clear by the first water break, the result was put beyond doubt approaching half-time when first Shane Punch teed up Oisin O’Donnell for a worthy opening goal in the 25th minute before a Punch free from 60 metres in the next passage of play wasn’t dealt with on the line and trickled into the net at 2-10 to 0-04.
Chief protagonists Hegarty, O’Donnell, Cahill and Punch all had glorious opportunities for more goals before the interval that still left Clare 16 points in front.
Aside from a Diarmuid Cahill goal attempt that was cleared off the line by Daire Nolan by the two thirds mark followed by a three point burst through Punch (2) and Colm O’Meara, Clare were sorely second best in the new half as they reverted to hit and hope hurling.
Instead, a defiant Kerry grew in confidence as the half developed, with Ronan Walsh knocking over some fine points as the home side outscored the Banner by 0-7 to 0-2 in the final quarter.
Plenty of food for thought for manager Sean Doyle and Co. over the next seven days but being a first victory at this grade in six years, ultimately a win is a win in Munster.
Clare: Cian Broderick (Clarecastle); Mike Gough (Smith O’Brien’s), Darragh Healy (Clarecastle), Adam Hogan (Feakle); Adam Mungovan (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Aidan Moriarty (Clonlara), Dylan McMahon (Clonlara); Paddy Donnellan (Broadford), Colm O’Meara (Clonlara); Jack Kirwan (Parteen), William Halpin (Tulla), Oisin O’Donnell (Crusheen); Diarmuid Cahill (Corofin), Shane Punch (Ruan), Conner Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona)
Subs: Kevin Keane (Corofin) for Kirwan (HT), Conor Leen (Corofin for McMahon (34), James McGuire (Kilmaley) for Halpin (43), Ian Macnamara (Killanena) for O’Donnell (48), Jarlath Collins (Éire Óg) for Hogan (51)
Scorers: Shane Punch (1-8, 1-5f); Diarmuid Cahill (0-7); Oisin O’Donnell (1-1); Conner Hegarty, William Halpin, Adam Mungovan, Colm O’Meara (0-1 each)
Kerry: Dara Quinlan; Mikey Clifford, Padraig O’Sullivan, Sean Sheehan; Luke Barrett, Kevin Goulding, Daire Nolan; Darragh Slattery, Tomas Hannifin; Colin Walsh, Ronan Walsh, Dylan Moriarty; Nathan Guerin, Mikey Kelliher, Seanie Brosnan
Subs: Kyle O’Connor for O’Sullivan (34), Darragh Reen for Brosnan (42), Michael Lenihan for Moriarty (48), Declan O’Donoghue for Guerin (48), JP O’Carroll for Kelliher (58)
Scorers: Dylan Moriarty (0-6, 5f); Ronan Walsh (0-5, 3f); Darragh Reen (0-2); Nathan Guerin, Colin Walsh (0-1 each)
Referee: Peter Carroll (Tipperary)