24 Jan 2022

Limerick suffer heavy loss to clinical Kerry in McGrath Cup opener

Limerick suffer heavy loss to clinical Kerry in McGrath Cup opener

Rory O’Brien of Limerick is tackled by Dara Moynihan, left, and Pa Warren, of Kerry, during the McGrath Cup fixture at Austin Stack Park, Tralee on Wednesday night

AN EXPERIMENTAL Limerick side suffered a 23-point defeat in their McGrath Cup opener at Austin Stack Park, Tralee on Wednesday evening in what was Jack O’Connor’s first game in charge in his return as Kerry manager.

By half-time, Billy Lee’s Limerick side - the current McGrath Cup champions – were 16 points down against a very strong Kingdom side.

In truth, this Group B Round 1 game was done and dusted after just five minutes when Paudie Clifford found the back of the net to put Kerry five points ahead.

By the 11th minute, the younger of the two Clifford brothers, David, tapped home from close range to make it 2-3 to 0-1 in favour of Kerry. Limerick had responded with their opening point from Cillian Fahy.

Geany to David Clifford for second goal – 11th minute.

Limerick were trailing by nine points – 2-4 to 0-1 - by the first water break.

Limerick struggled to deal with Kerry's very strong front six of Dara Moynihan, the Clifford brothers, Stephen O’Brien, Killian Spillane, and Paul Geaney who all linked up well with Senior debutant Stefan Okunbor.  The Tralee man returned home last September after a three-year spell with AFL side Geelong Cats.

Additional first half points by Paul Geaney, Stephen O’Brien, Paudie Clifford, Pa Warren, David Clifford and Pa Warren had Kerry leading 2-13 to 0-3 at the break. Fahy had slotted over his second of the evening to give the travelling Limerick support something to shout about.

Both sides emptied their benches in the second half, but Limerick could only manage three further scores – a free from Robbie Bourke, a Dara Noonan point, and a Peter Nash point from play with three minutes remaining – as Kerry opened the gap to 23 points.

Next up for Billy’s Lee charges is a home tie against Tipperary in Mick Neville Park in Rathkeale this Sunday, January 9 at 2pm.

Limerick open their Division 3 Allianz League campaign against Longford in the TUS Gaelic Grounds on January 29.

SCORERS: LIMERICK: Cillian Fahy 0-2, Robbie Bourke (one free), Peter Nash, Dara Noonan, Liam O’Sullivan 0-1 each. KERRY: David Clifford 1-4 (one free, one mark), Paudie Clifford 1-2, Paul Geaney (one mark, one free), Killian Spillane, Tony Brosnan (one free), Sean O’Shea (three frees) 0-3 each, Pa Warren, Stephen O’Brien, Gavin Crowley, Dara Moynihan, Michael Burns 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan (capt.); Jim Liston, Luke Murphy, Maurice O’Sullivan; Tony McCarthy, Cillian Fahy, Colm McSweeney; Darragh Tracey, Rory O’Brien; Pádraig De Brún, Diarmuid Kelly, Dara Noonan; Peter Nash, Robbie Bourke, Hugh Bourke. SUBS: Liam O’Sullivan for Maurice O’Sullivan (16 mins), John Hayes for O’Brien, Barry Coleman for Robbie Bourke (both 46 mins), Shane Barry for Kelly (54 mins), Darragh Ranahan for Liston (58 mins)

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 (capt.), Paul Geaney. SUBS: Tony Brosnan for David Clifford, Sean O’Shea for Okunbor, Cian Gammel for Warren (all half-time), Brian O'Beaglaioch for Breen, Michael Burns for Paudie Clfford (both 41 mins), Jack Savage for Moynihan (48 minutes), Paul O’Shea for Adrian Spillane (50 mins), Dara Roche for Geaney (54 mins)

REFEREE: John Ryan (Cork)

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