Electric Ireland Munster MFC final
A 24-point winning margin at the end of the county’s 21st consecutive championship victory at minor level.
When Kildare scored a two-point All-Ireland quarter-final win over the Kerry minor class of 2013, nobody could have foreseen the three and a half seasons of unstinting Kerry dominance that would follow.
Jack O’Connor replaced Mickey Ned O’Sullivan that autumn, delivering two Munster and two All-Ireland titles before moving onto the U21 gig.
Peter Keane followed him in. Different faces, same results. Both their provincial and All-Ireland crowns were retained in 2016. Indeed, no team came within six points of Kerry last year.
2017 is shaping up in much the same fashion.
Clare dismissed with 13 points to spare in the quarter-final, Cork also forced to endure a double-digit reverse during their semi-final meeting at Páirc Uí Rinn.
And now, this. Further evidence this latest crop of Kerry minors have the potential to be every bit as dominant, and more, as the three teams to come before them.
Not since Kerry’s 4-17 to 0-2 thumping of Tipperary in 1946 has a Munster minor football decider been so one-sided.
David Clifford, the provider of 2-8 during the semi-final victory on Cork turf, helped himself to six points here before being withdrawn in the 49th minute. We wondered if it was an injury-enforced substitution given the gingerly leisure at which Clifford departed the field.
Keane assured us afterwards it wasn’t. Summed up their afternoon, really, that they could afford to withdraw their leading marksman with 11 minutes remaining. Well, leading marksman up to that juncture.
Kerry clipped 2-5 between there and the finish, with Dónal O’Sullivan supplying 2-3 of this total. His first green flag arrived in second-half stoppages, sub Ciaran O’Reilly offloading Barry Mahony’s delivery into O’Sullivan’s path and he finished from close range.
On 64 minutes, the Kilgarvan youngster struck again, completing Kerry’s 2-3 injury-time burst. Not that they required it. This game was cooked following points from O’Sullivan (free), Donnchadh O’Sullivan and Fiachra Clifford at the beginning of the second-half to move the hosts 0-13 to 0-2 clear.
For Clare, who finished with 14, after Jayme O’Sullivan picked up two yellows, this was a chastening experience.
Diarmuid Ryan had them in front after 26 seconds but they would not score again until Dermot Coughlan stroked over a run-of-the-mill free three minutes from the break. They’d manage just one second-half point, a 59th minute Coughlan dead-ball effort.
The centre-forward’s second free, ending as it did a 32-minute barren spell, perfectly captured their difficulties. Just one point from play.
Diarmuid Ryan, Colin McNeilis and Ross O’Doherty all bore down on Deividas Uosis’ goal at various junctures, but each was stripped of possession before they could get a shot away. Sporadic were the questions posed of the Kerry defence during the curtain-raiser. But each one was emphatically answered.
Clare manager Seamus Clancy hinted earlier in the week that he was not keen to deploy a sweeper as he felt that would amount to surrender before the ball had even been thrown in. And, to be fair, they didn’t employ a sweeper, per se. They packed the midfield area, with extra bodies funnelling back each time Kerry pressed forward. It proved little use.
A pair each from Dónal O’Sullivan and David Clifford had Kerry 0-4 to 0-1 in front by the eighth minute. They didn’t raise a flag of any description again until the 22nd minute and their 10 first-half wides was the sole blot on their report card.
But when you’re 24 to the good at the finish, everything else is largely immaterial.
Scorers for Kerry:
Dónal O’Sullivan (2-8, 0-3 frees); D Clifford (0-6); Donnchadh O’Sullivan, F Clifford (0-2 each); B Mahony, B Friel J Griffin (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clare:
D Coughlan (0-2, 0-2 frees); D Ryan (0-1).
D Uosis (Dingle); S O’Leary (Kilcummin), C O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), C Gammell (Legion); M Potts (Dr Crokes), E Horan (Scartaglen), N Donohue (Firies); B Mahony (St Senan’s), D O’Connor (Na Gaeil); A Donoghue (Castleisland Desmonds), B Friel (Rathmore), F Clifford (Laune Rangers); Donnchadh O’Sullivan (Firies), D Clifford (Fossa), Dónal O’Sullivan (Kilgarvan).
J Griffin (Dr Crokes) for Friel (44); M O’Leary (Renard) for Gammell (48); P Warren (Gneeveguilla) for D Clifford (49); C O’Reilly (Austin Stacks) for Donnchadh O’Sullivan (52); R O’Neill (Na Gaeil) for Donohue (52); D Casey (Austin Stacks) for O’Leary (55).
M Lillis (Cooraclare); J Sheedy (St Breckan’s), J O’Sullivan (Wolfe Tones), J Miniter (Kilrush); S Rouine (Ennistymon), F Donnellan (Cooraclare), C McNeilis (Clondegad); D Ryan (Cratloe), K White (Inagh Kilnamona); R Phelan (Kilrush), D Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane), R O’Doherty (Ennistymon); G Cahill (Corofin), G Cooney (Éire Óg), R Considine (Cratloe).
C O’Donoghue (Cooraclare) for Considine (HT): D Griffin (Éire Óg) for White (41); C O’Brien (St Breckan’s) for Cahill (43); C McMahon (Cratloe) for Phelan (45); A Reynolds (Killimer) for Cooney (50); S Casey (Kildysart) for Rouine (52).
D Murnane (Cork).ends
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