GAA Football

Kerry make light of Clifford absence as they turn focus to bigger challenges ahead

28 May 2022; Sean O’Shea of Kerry lifts the cup after the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Limerick at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Jason O'Connor at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney

Munster SFC Final: Kerry 1-28 Limerick 0-8

NOT even the absence of David Clifford had any material effect on the outcome in Killarney on Saturday as Kerry had a near quadruple score victory over a Limerick side that could not keep the Kingdom in sight for any longer than the first quarter.

Jack O’Connor expressed his hope that Clifford will return to training with the Kingdom this week when asked about his injury afterwards.

“He got injured in the game against Cork. We thought he could make it for today but on medical advice we decided not to play him. Of course you would have liked to have got a tougher test here today but we set out targets for this match today and, by and large, we met them,” the Kingdom boss said after their 83rd provincial title victory overall.

Limerick manager Billy Lee declined to debate the merits of the Munster SFC in the immediate aftermath of the game but said he would not sugarcoat their performance last Saturday at the same time.

“We’ll take it on the chin. We are not in the business of hiding and we have a lot to learn about facing teams like Kerry after that. We don’t need anyone to tell us that and we will be backing the players all the way from here," he said.

Kerry looked like a side getting to know their opponents’ defensive set-up in the first period as it was only in the last eight minutes of the first period that Kerry started to put some daylight between themselves and Limerick on the scoreboard.

A fine free from near the sideline by Limerick’s Josh Flynn had made the score 0-7 to 0-3 after 29 minutes. However, great pace and awareness from the likes of Stephen O’Brien and Gavin White helped Kerry go into a nine-point lead at half-time thanks to five unanswered points.

Tony Brosnan had their best first half goal chance but he lost control of the ball at the vital moment in Limerick goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan being able to deal with his soccer-style poke.

Sean O’Shea converted a fine 45 after that chance to make it 0-12 to 0-3 at the break as Iain Corbett was Limerick’s only real threat when he was able to go forward. Kerry added another six when the second half got going before Corbett scored a 47th minute point for the Treatymen. It only woke Kerry up though as Paul Geaney gave a great pass to Killian Spillane for the only goal of the game a minute later.

The Kingdom had 11 different scores in a facile 23-point win as six of those came from defence with Tom O’Sullivan coming forward to knock over three points from the full-back line.

Jack Barry, Stephen O’Brien and Killian Spillane all had stellar performances for the Kingdom in victory. They will now have to wait four weeks to see how everything pans out around the country in learning who their All-Ireland quarter-final opponents will be on the last weekend in June.

The fear they will enter ‘undercooked’ will only be heightened by how one sided last Saturday’s proceedings turned out to be on their own patch.

Kerry: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan (0-3); B Ó Beaglaoich (0-2), T Morley, G White (0-1); D O’Connor, J Barry; P Clifford (0-2), S O’Shea (0-6, 0-1 free, 0-1 45), S O’Brien (0-1); T Brosnan (0-3), P Geaney (0-4, 0-1 mark), K Spillane (1-3)

Subs: D Moran for D O’Connor (51), A Spillane (0-1) for S O’Brien (51) D Casey for J Foley (51), M Burns (0-2) for K Spillane (53), P Murphy for T Morley (55)

Temporary subs: D Moran for D O’Connor (25-26); G Crowley for B Ó Beaglaoich (56-end)

Limerick: D O’Sullivan; S O’Dea, B Fanning, M Donovan; C Sheehan (0-3), I Corbett (0-2), P Maher; D Tracey, C Fahy; A Enright, B Donovan, J Naughton; P Nash, J Ryan (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 45), H Bourke

Subs: R Bourke for H Bourke (h-t), G Brown (0-1) for P Maher (46), T Griffin for A Enright (46), C McSweeney for P Nash (46), R Childs for B Fanning (62)

Referee: M McNally (Monaghan)

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