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Munster Senior Football Semi Final

posted 12 Jun 2017, 13:29 by John O'Sullivan

KERRY.......................1-18       CLARE..................1-12

by Michael O Connor.

The one that got away or false reality. Two viewpoints of this entertaining Munster senior semi final played before 5,786 patrons in Cusack Park, Sunday. A powerful start, a poor second quarter. Missed chances in the opening ten minutes of the second half before a succession of scores in the middle of the second half topped off with a Kerry goal made up the story of this game.

Following on from the solid showing in Killarney the year previous allied to Clare holding onto division two status and a years experience hopes were high of a solid showing. The presence of James O Donoghue on the Kerry side was to prove match winning for Kerry as Clare had no one to really curb the Legion club player. Ironically Clare had multiple chances in the opening ten minutes to go five clear but spurned three great points chance. On the other hand they did show greatly early on with two stunning efforts from David Tubridy before Keelan Sexton pointed a free. James O Donoghue and Paul Geaney who acted a powerful support act to Donoghue kept Kerry in touch.

The huge Kerry away support that must have outnumbered the home support by 2 to 1 at the very least appeared muted for most of the opening half as Clare to their credit were more than a match for Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side.

Over the course of the game referee Padraig Hughes issued 12 yellow cards to eleven different players  with Donnacha Walsh picking up the first of two conceding a penalty to Keelan Sexton that David Tubridy converted to see Clare surge five clear. Instead of adding further scores to heap pressure on Kerry the Clare challenge stuttered as O Donoghue got into gear. He struck two in two minutes as Paul Geaney also on target cut the Kerry deficit to two points in the 25th minute. Donnacha Walsh received his second yellow card to reduce Kerry to 14 players but this did not stall the Kerry revival unduly as O Donoghue (3) in a five minutes spell sent Kerry (0-8) to (1-4) clear. The final score of the first half fell to Ciaran Russell that forced parity (1-5) to (0-8) entering the dressingrooms for the interval break with strong wind and rain an unwelcome pairing.

Goals and three at least would be needed by Clare to win this tie even with the elements backing them in the second half. Eoin Cleary opened the second half in a positive trend with the first score as Cathal O Connor sent over a huge long range free off the ground as Clare stretched two clear by the 39th minute. The most important substitution of the day  fell to Kerry as they brought on Stephen O Brien who was the key factor in the second half for Kerry alongside O Donoghue.  O Brien and Cleary swopped scores before Paul Geaney and Michael Geaney were on target to leave the side level on (1-8) to (0-11) by the 43rd minute.

Kerry were now rampant as Clare were on the backfoot losing midfield and definitely curtailed up front with ease by a now dominant Kerry defence. Between the 45th and 51st minute Kerry through O Donoghue (3) and Anthony Maher raced (0-15) to (1-8) ahead. Clare responded with a brace of scores from Tubridy and Cleary by the 54th minutes as Clare now needed a goal but the best was a cannoned effort off the crossbar by Jamie Malone. Just when it appeared that Clare might make a strong showing in the last ten minutes they were struck for (1-2) and this sealed the game. O Donoghue and substitute Bryan Sheehan (free) were on target before Stephen O Brien waltzed past three Clare players and coolly slotted past Joe Hayes as Kerry went seven points clear. Shane Enright made it eight before two late consolation scores from Eoin Cleary did show that Clare were competitive throughout but lacked finish in the last third of the field.

Best for the winners who now move onto play Cork in the munster final included Shane Enright, Paul Murphy, Anthony Maher, Michael Geaney, Paul Geaney, James O Donoghue, Stephen O Brien and Fionn Fitzgerald. Clare had good displays but not enough consistency from Gary Brennan, David Tubridy, Eoin Cleary, Martin McMahon, Cathal O Connor and Jamie Malone.