*Aaron Rudd was Clare’s goalscorer. Photograph: Joe Buckley
CLARE HAVE exited the Oscar Traynor following a successive defeat.
Kerry District League 3
Clare District Soccer League 1
Venue: Frank Healy Park, Doora
A youthful and inexperienced Clare side were brushed aside by a physical and well-drilled Kerry outfit to inflict back to back defeats on Donie Garrihy’s side.
One month on from their narrow 2-1 loss to Limerick, Clare failed to make the necessary inroads to keep their campaign alive and instead took a backward step when falling to a dominant Kerry outfit.
Except for the trio of Darren O’Neill, Jack Kelly and Nathan Boaventura, the remainder of the Clare side were under the age of 25 while seven of the starting eleven were only lining out in their second ever appearance in the competition.
O’Neill together with the Hehir brothers Conor and Mossy and netminder Peadar O’Keeffe were part of the Clare squad for this tie having missed the opening round while injury ruled out Elias Kunz and John Mulready with Nnabuike Nneji, Jack Ryan and Witness Odirile absent from the squad.
Aided by the backing of a strong cross-field breeze into ‘Plunkett’s Corner’ of Frank Healy Park, Kerry were in control from the off. Peadar O’Keeffe had to be on alert to deny full-back Adam Ward with the first chance of the game and his save averted the danger on ten minutes.
There was no such luck on the next attack. An attempted clearance from Lee Mulready literally backfired when the kick into the air went backwards, Matt Keane took on Conor Hehir and put the ball across the goal which was drilled to the net by Tripimir Vrijicak on thirteen minutes.
An example of how Clare could do things well was evident on nineteen minutes. A quick reset from O’Keeffe was met by the head of Mulready and onto the direction of Darren O’Neill but his shot was dealt with comfortably by Shay O’Meara.
O’Keeffe’s second save of the contest arrived on twenty one minutes to deny Matthew Horgan. From here on, it was Clare that began to exert their influence on the game but crucially never hit the equaliser.
Mossy Hehir, Nathan Boaventura twice and Lee Mulready on the double all had opportunities with Shay O’Meara in the Kerry goal showing his value with a string of important interceptions and saves to keep their advantage at half-time.
Confusion and a breakdown in communication allowed Kerry to double this advantage on the restart. Joe Hanrahan and O’Keeffe both hesitated to deal with a cross and then none of them did allowing the ball to fall to substitute Aaron Ward who made no mistake in hitting the target.
O’Keeffe kept another goal with his feet, making a goal-line save on sixty one minutes from Ward again.
On the next attack, there was no such joy for O’Keeffe with Kerry getting goal number three. A free from John Ward was headed to the net by Liam Spillane to wrap up the tie with sixty three minutes on the clock.
Aaron Rudd hit a consolation goal for Clare in the final moments. He did superb to keep the ball in possession when a throw-in was on the cards, the break fell to Joe Hanrahan who nudged possession onto Darren O’Neill and he gave a one-touch pass to Rudd who finished well from distance.
For Kerry who are managed by Stuart Templmon and Tadhg Healy, they were fully deserving of the win and will be confident of taking down Limerick District League in a winner-take-all clash in the final round. Despite Kerry’s entry into the League of Ireland, they still fielded a much stronger side compared to Clare and in Shay O’Meara, Tripimir Vrijicak, Matthew Horgan and the Wards they had fine performers.
Facing against a strong opposition and an equally stronger breeze, Clare were on the backfoot from the kick-off by failing to have an impressive start. Their first touch was poor as was their communication, the hallmarks of a side who have not played together too often. It’s year one of Donie Garrihy’s return concluded, using this as a learning experience plus a strengthening of the squad can see them progress to the knockout stages next season.
Kerry: Shay O Meara; Adam Ward, Liam Spillane, Shane Doolan, John Ward; Sean Foley; Matt Keane; Matthew Horgan, Alvaro Gracas, Tripimir Vrijicak, Shane Lowth.
Subs: Aaron Ward for A Ward (HT), Dara O’Shea for Graces (54), Padraic Looney for Foley (65), Sean Lovett for Vrijicak (73).
Clare: Peadar O’Keeffe (Lifford FC); Cullen McCabe (Avenue Utd), Ethan Fitzgerald (Newmarket Celtic), Harvey Cullinan (Newmarket Celtic), Conor Hehir (Avenue Utd); Jack Kelly (Newmarket Celtic), Mossy Hehir (Avenue Utd), Lee Mulready (Bridge Utd), Tom Hanrahan (Moher Celtic), Darren O’Neill (Lifford FC), Nathan Boaventura (Newmarket Celtic)
Subs: Joe Hanrahan (Moher Celtic) for C Hehir (HT), Aaron Rudd (Newmarket Celtic) for Mulready (48), James Fahy (Shannon Town Utd) for Boaventura (64), Liam Buckley (Bridge Utd) for Kelly (65), Kirill Antonov (Kilrush Rangers) for Fitzgerald (80).
Referee: Shane Hayes