*Conner Hegarty was among Clare’s impressive performers. Photograph: Chris Copley
Clare bridged a six year gap to their last triumph at U20 level following a comprehensive away win over newcomers Kerry in Austin Stack Park, Tralee this evening.
Venue: Austin Stack Park, Tralee
It was the ultimate tale of two halves as Clare soared 16 points clear by the break, only to virtually down tools for a rudderless second period that saw Kerry dominate.
It was hard to believe how contrasting Clare’s performances were between the halves as they possessed an exciting brand of pace, power and movement in the opening period, only to abandon that gameplan on the turnover.
Diarmuid Cahill’s seven point haul from play was a particular highlight while Shane Punch, Oisin O’Donnell and Conner Hegarty pulled the strings in a purposeful early display.
County Minor A winning amalgamation partners with Corofin/Ruan Cahill and Punch combined for eight points as Clare moved 0-10 to 0-03 clear by the 19th minute. However, a two goal raid in the space of a minute effectively finished the tie as a contest in the 25th minute as Shane Punch won a Kerry puck-out and delivered to the onrushing Oisin O’Donnell to expertly finish to the net. Punch then got a large dollop of luck for his 60 metre free in the next passage of play that deceived the last defender on the line to land in the net and power Clare 12 clear.
Credit to Kerry goalkeeper Dara Quinlan for keeping his side in touch for the remainder of the half as the Balyduff stopper kept out efforts from Conner Hegarty, Oisin O’Donnell and Diarmuid Cahill while Punch just saw another whistle past the post at 2-15 to 0-05.
The less said about the second half the better from a Clare point of view as Kerry, thanks in the main to Dylan Moriarty and Ronan Walsh, chipped away at the deficit without ever threatening to grab a lifeline goal at any stage.
Clare briefly responded with a three point blitz through Punch (2) and Colm O’Meara while also seeing a Cahill goal attempt come up just short at 2-18 to 0-08 by the turn of the final quarter.
However, while Kerry outgunned their visitors by 0-7 to 0-2 for the remainder, there was little or no backlash from a flagging Clare which they cannot afford to replicate next Monday when renewing acquaintances with Limerick in the LIT Gaelic Grounds for a place in the Munster decider.
Scorers for Clare: Shane Punch (1-8, 1-5f); Diarmuid Cahill (0-7); Oisin O’Donnell (1-1); Conner Hegarty, William Halpin, Adam Mungovan, Colm O’Meara (0-1 each)
Scorers for Kerry: Dylan Moriarty (0-6, 5f); Ronan Walsh (0-5, 3f); Darragh Reen (0-2); Nathan Guerin, Colin Walsh (0-1 each)
1: Cian Broderick (Clarecastle)
2: Mike Gough (Smith O’Brien’s)
3: Darragh Healy (Clarecastle)
4: Adam Hogan (Feakle)
5: Adam Mungovan (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield)
6: Aidan Moriarty (Clonlara)
7: Dylan McMahon (Clonlara)
8: Paddy Donnellan (Broadford)
9: Colm O’Meara (Clonlara)
12: Jack Kirwan (Parteen)
11: William Halpin (Tulla)
10: Oisin O’Donnell (Crusheen)
15: Diarmuid Cahill (Corofin)
14: Shane Punch (Ruan)
13: Conner Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona)
22: Kevin Keane (Corofin) for Kirwan (HT)
17: Conor Leen (Corofin for McMahon (34)
18: James McGuire (Kilmaley) for Halpin (43)
19: Ian Macnamara (Killanena) for O’Donnell (48)
23: Jarlath Collins (Éire Óg) for Hogan (51)
1: Dara Quinlan (Ballyduff)
2: Mikey Clifford (Abbeydorney)
4: Padraig O’Sullivan (Ardfert)
3: Sean Sheehan (Causeway)
7: Luke Barrett (Tralee Parnells)
6: Kevin Goulding (Ballyduff)
5: Daire Nolan (Kilmoyley)
8: Darragh Slattery (Ballyduff)
9: Tomas Hannifin (Abbeydorney)
10: Colin Walsh (Ballyheigue)
11: Ronan Walsh (Kilmoyley)
12: Dylan Moriarty (Ballyduff)
13: Nathan Guerin (Ballyheigue)
14: Mikey Kelliher (Lixnaw)
15: Seanie Brosnan (Ardfert)
21: Kyle O’Connor (Ballyduff) for O’Sullivan (34)
17: Darragh Reen (Tralee Parnells) for Brosnan (42)
24: Michael Lenihan (Dr Croke’s) for Moriarty (48)
18: Declan O’Donoghue (Crotta O’Neill’s) for Guerin (48)
22: JP O’Carroll (Ballyduff) for Kelliher (58)
Referee: Peter Carroll (Tipperary)