Kerry win, but at what cost?

Kerry 1-14, Clare 0-5

What will also disappoint coach Pat O’Shea, albeit to a lesser degree was a sub-standard performance from his team in a drab Munster semi-final in which Clare did well to avoid a heavier defeat.

The referee red-carded the Clare full-back Conor Whelan and dismissed both Galvin and his immediate opponent John Hayes after they each received second yellow cards – all in a 15-minute period in the second half.

What had preceded these events wasn’t a great advertisement for the game, with both sides conceding a lot of needless frees and some heavy tackles being shipped. And with Clare steadily losing ground after half time in the face of a reasonable improvement from the hosts (thanks to Seamus Scanlon’s emergence at midfield and Eoin Brosnan’s form at centre-forward) they were to be limited to a single score.

While scores were level in the 15th and 22nd minutes (at 0-3), there was never the slightest doubt about the outcome. The significant point from a Kerry perspective was that they were always comfortable in defence, where Marc Ó Sé and Aidan O’Mahony made major contributions and Darragh Ó Sé was hugely influential. Marc Ó Sé spent most of the game in the left corner, swapping with Pádraig Reidy after he troubled in the opening stages by Rory Donnelly.

Clare were competitive, lively in attack and in general were much more determined. And, they were successful in limiting Kerry’s attacking potential because they brought a lot of players back behind the ball (at one stage in the second half they had only one forward in the Kingdom half).

On a more positive note, their backs performed well under pressure – Conor Whelan in particular against championship debutante Tommy Walsh, who didn’t make a big impact, largely because the attack never really clicked as a unit. Similarly, Colm Cooper didn’t get a great service, but he was very closely marked all through by Gordon Kelly.

Leaving Cert student David Connole, too, performed well at centre-back, even though Declan O’Sullivan made a few strong runs down the left flank, while Brosnan was seldom involved and while Galvin showed signs of rustiness, he worked hard to try and make openings.

With Clare’s delivery of ball out of defence poor at times and Kerry gaining the upper hand in defence when O’Mahony took control in the centre, the net result was that scores were hard to come by on both sides. Nevertheless, Declan O’Sullivan should have been allowed the ‘goal’ he scored in the 23rd minute, when the referee blew his whistle too quickly after a foul by corner-back Laurence Healy (which earned him a yellow card). And both Brosnan (five minutes later, when he tried to ‘lob’ the goalkeeper) and Galvin in the 30th minute (when he was outjumped in the square after a great pass from Sheehan) might have got the ball in the net. At the break, it was 0-7 to 0-4 for Kerry.

Kerry re-arranged their half-forward line on the restart with O’Sullivan moving to the right wing, Brosnan taking over in the centre and Galvin operating on the left. They added two points within six minutes and then came the only goal of the game, which was the direct consequence of Connole giving the ball away to Sheehan, who promptly sent Colm Cooper through to tap the ball into an empty net.

A few minutes later came the incident in which Declan O’Sullivan was injured, when he fell to the ground when several players converged on him as he promised a goal. And, it was after his replacement, Darren O’Sullivan, was knocked after he scored a point that Conor Whelan was sent off.

However, the real drama came in the 54th minute, with Galvin (yellow-carded in the 14th minute), sent off after the linesman had alerted the referee to an off-the-ball incident (in which Galvin seemed to be the innocent victim). After knocking Russell’s notebook and remonstrating with the linesman, he then got involved with teammate Tomas Ó Sé.

Scorers for Kerry: B. Sheehan 0-5 (0-4 frees); C. Cooper 1-0; A. O’Mahony 0-2; E. Brosnan, Declan O’Sullivan, T. Walsh, Darren O’Sullivan, D. Ó Se, P. Galvin and T. Ó Se 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clare: D. Tubridy 0-3 (0-2 frees, 0-1 ‘45); R. Donnelly 0-2.

KERRY: D. Murphy; M. Ó Se, T. O’Sullivan, P. Reidy; T. Ó Se, A. O’Mahony, T. Griffin; D. Ó Se, S. Scanlon; P. Galvin (capt.), Declan O’Sullivan, E. Brosnan; C. Cooper, T. Walsh, B. Sheehan.

Subs: Darren O’Sullivan for Declan O’Sullivan (43); K. Donaghy for Walsh (60); D. Bohane for Griffin (63); M. Quirke for D. Ó Se and S. O’Sullivan for Sheehan (68).

CLARE: Joe Hayes; L. Healy, C. Whelan, G. Kelly; N. Considine, D. Connole, John Hayes; G. Quinlan, G. Brennan; D. Russell, S. Hickey, S. Collins; R. Donnelly, C. Dillon, D. Tubridy.

Subs: M. O’Shea for Dillon (h/t); A. Clohessy for Tubridy (41); G. Lyons for O’Shea (58); M. Tubridy for Considine (65); N. White for Healy (71).

Referee: Paddy Russell (Tipperary).

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