Limerick’s interest in the McGrath Cup ended in Killarney on Sunday when a burst of Kerry scoring wiped out their challenge midway through the second half to turn what had been a contest into a stroll.
Up to that point, the visitors had given as good as they got from Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s new-look Kingdom formation but, when the effort caught up on the Limerick midfield, the side folded like a concertina in the face of continuous pressure.
It was one of these games where hunger appeared to be the missing ingredient between winners and losers. With a new management set-up, players were competing for the green-and-gold jersey ahead of the league’s opening on Sunday week.
Meanwhile, Limerick looked more like a side putting in the donkey work of pre-season preparation as they laboured to inject pace and fell away badly in the final quarter.
Kerry had several missed goal chances before the Darren O’Sullivan finished off a flashing pass-and-return with O’Donoghue to blast past Brian Scanlan. Limerick found a response as Derry O’Connor, John Riordan and James O’Meara shot them back into contact but their efforts were undone when Keane pointed on the turn and O’Donoghue raced onto a breaking ball for Kerry’s second goal and a half-time lead of 2-7 to 0-6.
The Shannonsiders resumed the effort on the restart and, after twice missing the target, got the goal they needed when Darragh Treacy finished off John Riordan’s lay-off. Ryan followed up with a free and, after Bryan Sheehan replied in kind, Lorcan O’Dwyer brought the gap back to three.
Then, without warning, the game ended as a contest. Mike O’Keeffe stumbled as he reached to collect a pass and O’Donoghue raced into to bag Kerry’s third.
SCORERS, KERRY: James O’Donoghue 2-5 (0-5 frees), Darran O’Sullivan 1-1, Michael Geaney, Barry John Keane 0-3 each, Bryan Sheehan (2frees), Michael O’Donoghue 0-2 each, Paddy Curtin 0-1; LIMERICK: Ian Ryan 0-6 (5 frees), Darragh Treacy 1-0, Danny Neville, Derry O’Connor, John Riordan, James O’Meara, Lorcan O’Dwyer 0-1 each.
KERRY: Brian Kelly; David Culhane, Michael Moloney, Fionn Fitzgerald; Jonathan Lyne, Jack Sherwood, Killian Young; Anthony Maher, Bryan Sheehan; Michael Geaney, Darran O’Sullivan, Michael O’Donoghue; James O’Donoghue, Paddy Curtin, Barry John Keane. SUBS: Kieran O’Leary for Darran O’Sullivan (52 mins), Tomás Ó Sé for Bryan Sheehan (55 mins), Andrew Garnett for Anthony Maher (61 mins), Brian Looney for James O’Donoghue (61 mins), Aidan O’Mahony for Michael Moloney (55 mins).
LIMERICK: Brian Scanlan; Cian Coady, Johnny McCarthy, Paudie Browne; John Riordan, Mike Sheehan, Lorcan O’Dwyer; Tom Lee, Bobby O’Brien; James O’Meara, Darragh Treacy, Derry O’Connor; Danny Neville, Seamus O’Carroll, Ian Ryan. SUBS: Mike O’Keeffe for Michael Sheehan (33 mins), Paul Kinnerk for Bobby O’Brien (55 mins), Seán Sheehan for Eoghan O’Connor (65mins), Denis O’Dea for Tom Lee (68 mins), Brendan McCarthy for James O’Meara (69 mins).
REFEREE: Conor Lane (Cork).