Kerry 2-12 Kildare 0-11
Goals in either half from Mike O’Donoghue secured a first Cadbury’s All-Ireland Under-21 football championship for Kerry since 1998, as they claimed a seven-point victory over Kildare at Semple Stadium tonight.
A strong overall performance gave Kerry this title after Kildare lapsed immediately after the restart.
Although the Lilywhites regained composure, it was after O’Donoghue netted his second goal which paved the way to victory.
Kildare were certainly fired up for this clash and they led by 0-3 to 0-1 after eight minutes thanks to a brace of Eoin O’Flaherty points and a free from full-forward Alan Smith.
Following a fine catch at midfield by Alan O’Sullivan, Kerry burst up-field and with plenty of momentum behind him, full-forward Tommy Walsh slotted over a superb point between the posts.
Kerry were on fire at this stage and when Spa man O’Donoghue rounded Sean Murphy in the 14th minute he only had one thing on his mind - goal.
He crashed the ball past Kildare goalkeeper Niall McConnell and ensured a lead Sean Geaney’s charges would not relinquish for the remainder of the hour.
Paul O’Connor, Paddy Curran and David Moran all tagged on excellent points as Kerry raced 1-5 to 0-3 clear by the 25th minute.
However Kildare finished the half strongly with three unanswered points from Mark Waters, Alan Smith and O’Flaherty to cut the gap to two points by the interval.
Both sets of players emerged fired up for the second half, but Kildare really were starting to play second fiddle and Kerry had three points on the board before Gavin Smullen sent over his sides first point of the second half in the 38th minute.
O’Connor with a brace and Moran with his second from play, got the Kingdom off the mark as they now looked like a team that were nicely set up for victory.
Smullen’s score left four points between the sides but that was as good as it got for his side as O’Donoghue rifled home another goal which put daylight between the sides.
Kildare did try hard with the likes of substitutes John Fogarty, Joe Cocoman and Mark O’Sullivan getting very much in on the action, but with Kerry on fire there was no stopping the Kingdom who joined Cork on the top of the Roll of Honour with ten titles each.
After the game, Kerry captain Killian Young accepted the Clarke Cup from GAA President elect Christy Cooney.
KERRY: T Mac an tSaoir; C O’Mahoney, M Moloney, S Enright; A O’Sullivan, K Young, G Duffy; D Moran (0-2), A O’Sullivan; K O’Leary (0-1, 1f), J Buckley (0-1), M O’Donoghue (2-0); P Curran (0-2), T Walsh (0-1), P O’Connor (0-5, 3f).
Subs: K Brennan for Duffy (HT); E Hickson for O’Sullivan (53); B Looney for Buckley (57); J Doolan for Walsh (59); E O’Neill for Curran (61)
KILDARE: N McConnell; C Brophy, D Brennan, S Murphy; J Browne, G White, T Byrne; M Waters (0-1), N Higgins; D Whyte, E O’Flaherty (0-4), K Kelly; S Fahey, A Smith (0-2, 2f), G Smullen (0-1).
Subs: N Clinch for Brophy (25); J Fogarty for Kelly (35); J Cocoman for Whyte (42); M O’Sullivan (0-1) for Fahey (48).
Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo)