Clifford brothers combine for Kerry to annihilate Galway in awesome display
Allianz Football League Division One South:
By Tom McLoughlin
Whisper it gently. The old Kerry may be back. Well, perhaps one swallow does not a summer make but Kerry’s interplay and scoring prowess this afternoon was simply a joy to behold. David Clifford, and older brother Paudie combined for a total of 4-08 of Kerry’s mammoth 4-21 total.
Kerry’s victory, as one sided a Division One league game as I can recall, must be caveated however by the fact that as impressive as Kerry were, Galway were abysmal and Pádraic Joyce will have been more than disappointed at the abject application and lack of work rate from his side. That said, the spaces which the Kerry forward line had to work with, especially the younger Clifford, would leave one wondering if perhaps some form of defensive protection should have been afforded to the Galway full back line.
In a rainy and windy Tralee, Kerry were sublime from start to finish and raced into an early 0-4 to 0-1 lead with all of Kerry’s first four pints coming from play through Paudie Clifford, Killian Spillane and two scores from David Clifford whilst Galway’s opening point came from their most dangerous forward on the day, Damien Comer.
Kerry were building through the gears nicely at this stage and Galway were already struggling to keep up when Sean O’Shea raced down the left wing before looping an inch perfect hand pass across the goal mouth for David Clifford to rise high above his marker and palm the ball into the net to make it 1-07 to 0-02.
Kerry were cutting through the Galway defence at will and the second goal completely put the game beyond doubt. Dara Moynihan, who was lively throughout, meandered through the Galway defence before slipping in Paudie Clifford who was steaming through the middle at pace to slot the ball low into the right hand corner underneath the onrushing Bernard Power to make it 2-07 to 0-03. Paudie Clifford can be very happy with his overall display and only for the exploits of Power in goal, could have had a hat-trick himself.
Galway’s defence was at sixes and sevens for much of the first half. The lack of intensity in their first half performance was exploited by a rampant Kerry forward line. Killian Spillane was prominent and helped himself to a tally of 0-4 in the first 35 minutes and Kerry went into the dressing room with a lead of 2-09 to 0-4 playing against the wind. Galway looked bereft and shell-shocked.
Peter Keane will have gone into the dressing room content with the first half display, which was the antithesis to the football they played against Cork in their shock Munster championship exit. In contrast, one can only imagine the hairdryer treatment employed by Padraic Joyce at half time as he tried to illicit some reaction and stoke the flames. Changes were made and Joyce brought on Robert Finnerty and Sean Kelly at half time to go along with the introduction of Ronan Steede and Cathal Sweeney in the first half. Surely, the Tribesmen would come out with a positive reaction.
Alas, this was not the case as the second half was very much more of the same and any hopes we had of Galway making it a contest of were extinguished early in the second half. The conductor of the Kerry orchestra throughout was Sean O’Shea, a wonderfully composed ball player who linked the play in the forward unit majestically. This was elucidated in the third goal for Kerry when he and David Clifford combined for Clifford to bury the pall past Power.
However the best was yet to come for Clifford. The ball fell kindly to the Fossa man on the ground with Galway full back Mulkerrin and Power both diving to their right anticipating a first time finish. However, fittingly on FA Cup final day, Clifford scored a goal that could easily grace Wembley. With a sublime little drag back, Clifford put both Galway players on the ground with one stroke of his wand of a left foot leaving himself the easiest task of rolling the ball into an open net. When Clifford plays like this, he truly is the best footballer in the country and seems unmarkable at times. Clifford would tag on another free to bring his haul for the day to 3-06 before being substituted in the 51st minute. The maestro was done for the day. Bigger challenges lie ahead.
The game petered out in the fourth quarter and Kerry would empty their bench with veteran Tommy Walsh and U-20 star Paul O’Shea making cameo appearances, scoring a point each. Indeed, only for the heroics of Power in the Galway goal, Kerry could have had 8 goals as he pulled off a string of impressive saves over the course of the game. Galway kept plugging away and substitutes Seán Kelly, Kieran Molloy and Robert Finnerty each popped up with scores. However, the day was very much about Kerry strolling to a one sided victory on a final scoreline of 4-21 to 0-11.
Next up for Kerry in Round Two of the league is a mouth-watering clash with old rivals Dublin in Semple Stadium on Sunday. On the basis of today, they certainly have the forward line to threaten the Dubs. Somehow I don’t think Keane will overthink next weekend and should do what Kerry do best; let Kerry be Kerry.
As for Galway, they will face familiar foes Roscommon in Pearse Stadium next Sunday in a dress rehearsal for their Connaught championship semi-final and will be anxious to put today’s result and performance behind them.
Scorers – Kerry: David Clifford 3-6 (1 free, 1 mark), Sean O’Shea 0-7 (3 frees, 2 marks, 2 45s), Paudie Clifford 1-2, Killian Spillane 0-4, Paul O’Shea 0-1, Tommy Walsh 0-1 (1 mark)
Galway: Shane Walsh 0-2 (1 free), Damien Comer 0-2, Paul Conroy 0-2 (1 free), Dessie Conneely 0-1, Matthew Tierney 0-1, Sean Kelly 0-1, Kieran Molloy 0-1, Robert Finnerty 0-1 (1 free)
Kerry: Kieran Fitzgibbon; Brian O’Beaglaoich, Tadhg Morley, Jason Foley; Paul Murphy, Gavin Crowley, Gavin White; David Moran, Jack Barry; Dara Moynihan, Sean O’Shea, Paul Geaney; David Clifford, Killian Spillane, Paudie Clifford. Subs: Diarmuid O’Connor for Moran (HT), Paul O’Shea for Geaney (HT), Tommy Walsh for D Clifford (51), Graham O’Sullivan for White (56), Adrian Spillane for O’Beaglaoich (56), Micheál Burns for Moynihan (62), Mike Breen on for Murphy (66)
Galway: Bernard Power; Jack Glynn, Seán Mulkerrin, Liam Silke; Gary O’Donnell, Dylan McHugh, Johnny Heaney; Peter Cooke, Paul Conroy; Paul Kelly, Matthew Tierney, Eamonn Brannigan; Dessie Conneely, Damien Comer, Shane Walsh. Subs: Cathal Sweeney for Heaney (26), Ronan Steede for Cooke (26), Seán Kelly for O’Donnell (HT), Robert Finnerty for P Kelly (HT), Finian O’Laoi for Conroy (49), Tomo Culhane for Conneely (58)
Man of the Match: David Clifford
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)