East Kerry 1-16
Mid Kerry 0-10
Roll up, roll up. Come and see the country’s greatest footballer – possibly of all time – in action.
David Clifford should be properly marketed, right up there on the giant billboards, as Kerry’s newest tourist attraction, alongside the Lakes of Killarney and Carrauntoohill, and promoted as a wonderful ambassador for his family, his club, his district board, his county and his chosen sport.
Even on a cold, wet, relatively miserable October Sunday, 6,000 people descended on Tralee from every corner of Kerry and further afield, many just to see the newly crowned footballer of the year in action in the flesh.
And the wizard from Fossa didn’t disappoint, delving deep into his box of tricks to produce a man-of-the-match display and one of the most complete performances seen in a Kerry SFC final for some time.
He kicked an astonishing 1-9 of his side’s 1-16 – 1-6 from play – but even that incredible statistic didn’t cause too many eyebrows to be raised at Austin Stack Park. In a way, it’s what we have come to expect from the outrageously classy corner forward. Nothing he does no longer surprises us. He’s got it and he flaunts it. He has it all. And he is a joy to watch.
Clifford’s sheer brilliance inspired East Kerry to their third county championship crown in four years and, in reality, there was nothing much Mid Kerry could do about it.
Try though they might – and they were gritty and determined right until the last whistle – Peter O’Sullivan’s side just couldn’t cope with the strength in depth of Jerry O’Sullivan’s charges and the experience and guile of the star-studded team in red created essential pockets of space all over the field, at key times in the game, and their ability to win possession from that scenario proved crucial.
So many times when Shane Ryan was pumping out ball he had a selection of unmarked team-mates from which to choose and, in that respect, Mid Kerry’s didn’t get their game plan right.
Mid Kerry, in fairness, got stuck in from the start and with the very impressive Pa Kilkenny, Mike Breen and Nathan Breen driving them on from the back, they were right up there and clung on until half-time at which stage there were just four points between the sides.
With the Clifford brothers, rising star Ruairí Murphy and James O’Donoghue catching the eye, Darragh Lyne winning a huge amount of ball around the middle and Paul Murphy and Jack Sherwood the stand-outs in defence, East Kerry really moved up a gear in the second half and the game was absolutely over as a contest when David Clifford bulged the Mid Kerry net after 45 minutes.
Mid Kerry didn’t even contemplate throwing in the towel, however, and Eanna O’Connor, Fiachra Clifford, Pa Kilkenny, Mike Breen, Keith Evans and Liam Carey did everything they possibly could to claw their side back into the game.
They seriously lacked penetration going forward, however, and their inability to break down the resolute East Kerry defence proved costly. The possession game they resorted to, laden with frustrating to watch lateral passing, is not an effective tool when your side is chasing the game and East Kerry just kept their focus, kept it simple and stayed in control.
It was East Kerry’s day – as so many had predicted – and they ran out comfortable winners with nine points to spare at the final shrill of Brendan Griffin’s whistle, 1-16 to 0-10.
David and Paudie Clifford and Shane Ryan will, tonight, get to make up for the subdued celebrations they had to endure following their All-Star success on Friday night and while it might not be as glamorous as the National Convention Centre, it’s safe to assume that The Shire in Killarney’s very own Middle-Earth will be a lot more lively.
Who would have thought it – the Bishop Moynihan under the one roof with Frodo Baggins.
Scorers for East Kerry: David Clifford 1-9 (0-2 frees, 0-1 mark), Darragh Roche 0-3 (0-1 free), Paudie Clifford 0-2, Darragh Lyne 0-1, Ruairi Murphy 0-1.
Scorers for Mid Kerry: Eanna O’Connor 0-3 (0-2 frees), Fiachra Clifford 0-2 (frees), Kieran Dennehy 0-2 (0-1 mark), Pa Kilkenny 0-1, Keith Evans 0-1, Gavan O’Grady 0-1.
East Kerry: Shane Ryan (Rathmore), Pa Warren (Gneeveguilla), Jack Sherwood (Firies), Chris O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), Jonathan Lyne (Legion), Paul Murphy (Rathmore), Dan O’Brien (Glenflesk), Darragh Lyne (Legion), Ronan Buckley (Listry), Ruairí Murphy (Listry), Paudie Clifford (Fossa), Cian Gammell (Legion) David Clifford (Fossa), Dara Roche (Glenflesk), James O’Donoghue (Legion).
Subs: Patrick D’arcy (Glenflesk) for Ruairí Murphy; Dónal O’Sullivan (Kilgarvan) for James O’Donoghue; Paul O’Shea (Kilcummin) for Jonathan Lyne; Kieran Murphy (Kilcummin) for Darragh Lyne; Niall Donohue (Firies) for Pa Warren.
Mid Kerry: Seán Coffey (Beaufort), Pa Wrenn (Milltown/Castlemaine), Nathan Breen (Beaufort), David Mangan (Laune Rangers), Eoin Clifford (Laune Rangers), Mike Breen (Beaufort), Pa Kilkenny (Glenbeigh/Glencar), Colin McGillicuddy (Glenbeigh/Glencar), Ronan Murphy (Beaufort), Darren Houlihan (Cromane), Eanna O’Connor (Milltown/Castlemaine), Keith Evans (Keel), Kieran Dennehy (Beaufort), Liam Carey (Beaufort), Fiachra Clifford (Laune Rangers).
Subs: David Roche (Milltown/Castlemaine) for Darren Houlihan; Seán O’Brien (Beaufort) for Ronan Murphy; Gavan O’Grady (Glenbeigh/Glencar) for Pa Wrenn; Gearoid Hassett (Laune Rangers) for Colin McGillicuddy; Caolim Teahan (Glenbeigh/Glencar) for Liam Carey.
Referee: Brendan Griffin (Clounmacon).
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