Classy Kerry see off disappointing Limerick in McGrath Cup

Kerry 2-23 Limerick 0-6

It was a difficult night at the office in Tralee for Limerick Senior Footballers as their 2022 season commenced with a 23 point reversal to All-Ireland favourites Kerry.

Limerick are defending McGrath Cup champions, though so much has changed since Iain Corbett and Donal O’Sullivan lifted that silverware in early 2020.

Billy Lee made two changes to the advertised team, with Diarmaid Kelly and Rory O’Brien coming in for debuts, with Adrian Enright and James Naughton missing out.

It was the Clifford brothers who did significant damage, particularly in the opening quarter. The first goal was for Paudie, who finished from close range as the initial goal change appeared to have evaporated. This made it 1-2 to no score after just five minutes, before Cillian Fahy replied with a well taken point for the visitors.

But it was one way traffic for the next 15 minutes. David Clifford poked home following a sweeping move before Paul Geaney landed a few nice points.

By the water-break, it was 2-4 to 0-1. Liam O’Sullivan was introduced for his debut and immediately notched a fine point, but Kerry kicked eight of the last nine scores of the half, with Pa Warren, Killian Spillane and both Clifford’s taking scores. A square ball denied a Kerry a third goal as Limerick’s kickout came under severe pressure.

The half-time score read 2-13 to 0-3. Limerick struggled to deal with Kerry’s pace as the hosts were clinical in front of the posts.

The withdrawal of David Clifford at half-time might have eased Limerick’s minds, but the fact that Sean O’Shea was introduced showed the depth which Kerry possess.

Limerick were able to hand more debuts in the second half with Rathkeale’s Barry Coleman, John Hayes of St. Kieran’s introduced together. Mungret St. Paul’s man Shane Barry and Ballysteen’s Darragh Ranahan were also introduced.

Dara Noonan and Peter Nash both kicked over fine points in the final quarter but it the result was clear from the early exchanges.

5 January 2022; Rory O’Brien of Limerick is tackled by Dara Moynihan, left, and Pa Warren of Kerry during the McGrath Cup Group B match between Kerry and Limerick at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Kerry. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Kerry: David Clifford 1-4 (0-1 free, 0-1 mark); Paudie Clifford 1-2; Killian Spillane, Sean O’Shea (0-3 frees), Tony Brosnan (0-1 free), Paul Geaney 0-3 (0-1 free, 0-1 mark) 0-3 each; Gavin Crowley 0-1, Stephen O’Brien, Pa Warren, Dara Moynihan, Michael Burns 0-1 each.

Limerick: Cillian Fahy 0-2; Liam O’Sullivan, Robbie Bourke, Dara Noonan, Peter Nash 0-1 each.

Kerry: Shane Murphy, Dan O’Donoghue, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan; Pa Warren, Mike Breen, Gavin Crowley; Stefan Okunbor, Adrian Spillane; Dara Moynihan, Paudie Clifford, Stephen O’Brien; Killian Spillane, David Clifford, Paul Geaney.
Subs Used: Cian Gammel for Warren (HT), Tony Brosnan for D. Clifford (HT), Sean O’Shea for Okunbor (HT), Brian Ó’Beaglaíoch for Breen (44 mins), Micháel Burns for P. Clifford (44 mins), Jack Savage for Moynihan (48 mins), Paul O’Shea for A. Spillane (50 mins), Dara Roche for Geaney (54 mins).

Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; Jim Liston, Luke Murphy, Maurice O’Sullivan; Tony McCarthy, Cillian Fahy, Colm McSweeney; Darragh Treacy, Rory O’Brien; Pádraig De Brúin; Diarmaid Kelly, Dara Noonan, Peter Nash, Robbie Bourke, Hugh Bourke.

Subs Used: Liam O’Sullivan for M. O’Sullivan (15 mins), John Hayes for O’Brien (46 mins), Barry Coleman for R. Bourke (46 mins), Shane Barry for Kelly (54 mins), Darragh Ranahan for Liston (59 mins)

Referee: John Ryan (Cork)

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