Clare’s involvement in the 2016 All-Ireland SFC came to a halt on Sunday evening with Kerry proving superior by eleven points in a one-sided affair.
Venue: Croke Park
Páraic McMahon reports from Croke Park
Although they had a promising start to the game, Clare failed to sustain a challenge for the full seventy minutes, that coupled with unforced errors and only hitting four points from play hindered their chances of causing a major shock.
In what has been a season to remember for Colm Collins’ squad this performance was one in which they didn’t do themselves justice and they will disappointed to see their season finish like it has. Against the top teams mistakes will be punished and Clare conceded a high rate of turnovers with many of them resulting from simple mistakes which Kerry duly took advantage of.
Éamonn Fitzmaurice and his Kerry management had their homework done and managed to curb the influence of Gary Brennan and Jamie Malone who had been two of the top players for Clare in their run to the last eight.
Daylight was put between the teams on the twentieth minute as the ball flicked off the boot of Paul Murphy and over the head of Dean Ryan to a fortunate Donnchadh Walsh who palmed past Joe Hayes for the opening goal of the game.
Prior to that the teams were level on three points apiece with Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue raising white flags while David Tubridy and Eoin Cleary had slotted over spot kicks for the Banner.
Kerry drove on after Walsh’ goal outscoring their opponents 5-1 in the remainder of the half. Pearse Lillis kicked Clare’s first score from play on the thirty fourth minute but efforts from Darran O’Sullivan, Walsh and James O’Donoghue left the Munster Champions seven points clear at the break.
It was a spirited start from the resumption for Clare with Jamie Malone kicking the first score over a minute into the second half. However their fight was dealt a blow as Darran O’Sullivan sent a rocket past Joe Hayes after a long ball found Paul Geaney who offloaded to the Glenbeigh-Glencar man.
This took the wind out of Clare’s sails and effectively finished the contest with Kerry holding on to secure an eleven point win and a place in the last four of the All-Ireland Championship where they will play either Donegal or Dublin.
While they were nowhere near their best there are positives for Clare to take from their first ever appearance in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals. They now know what standard they must get to if they want to challenge the top teams in the sport, on this day their reactions to the breaking ball was poor but as a team they must respond to this defeat and come back stronger in 2017, playing in Division 2 will be of a big help going forward.
Colm Collins and his management have given younger players the chance on the big stage and this exposure will stand to the likes of Keelan Sexton, Cian O’Dea, Pearse Lillis but also to the entire panel who got a taste of big days in Croke Park in both League and Championship.
For a finish it was shooting practice for Kerry and this highlighted an area of their play that needs massive improvement. They hit fourteen wides and may not be as fortunate with such a tally going forward. In saying that their workrate was to be applauded as they outfought their Clare counterparts which was evident as they had twenty one turnovers in comparison to thirteen for the men in Saffron and Blue.
Kerry: Brian Kelly (Killarney Legion); Mark Griffin (St Michael’s-Foilmore), Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht), Tadhg Morley (Templenoe), Peter Crowley (Laune Rangers); Killian Young (Retard), Kieran Donaghy (Austin Stacks), David Moran (Kerins O’Rahillys); Donnchadh Walsh (Cromane), Darran O’Sullivan (Glenbeigh-Glencar), Paul Murphy (Rathmore); James O’Donoghue (Killarney Legion), Paul Geaney (Dingle), Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare).
Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Martin McMahon (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Kevin Hartnett (Meelick), Shane Hickey (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Dean Ryan (Éire Óg), Gordon Kelly (St Josephs Miltown), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), Gary Brennan (Clondegad), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen), Podge Collins (Cratloe); Sean Collins (Cratloe), Jamie Malone (Corofin), Eoin Cleary (St Josephs Miltown); Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare), David Tubridy (Doonbeg).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)