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Kerry and Clare Renew Rivalry   09/06/2017

Kerry and Clare Renew Rivalry

By: Diarmuid Kearney & Samuel Mansfield


Kerry and Clare meet this Sunday at 3:30PM in the Semi Final of the Munster Senior Football Championship in Cusack Park, Ennis. Both sides have a notable history against each other as this will be the 49th time the sides meet in Championship competition, with Kerry coming out the better winning 45 of the previous 48 games. The Banner county have not beaten Kerry since 1992 with a 4 point win in that year’s Munster Final played in Limerick, but have come close since, in 2014 they fell short to a 4 point defeat on a scoreline of 1-17 to 1-13 which was also the sides last meeting in Ennis in championship competition. The sides locked horns twice last year, first in the Munster Semi Final and then an All Ireland Quarter Final, with Kerry winning on both occasions.


The Kingdom will feel the more confident of the sides coming off an impressive victory in the Allianz League final against Dublin, while Clare had a mixed bag of results in Division 2, finishing 5th in the League Table but managed to claim a scalp over Cork and Down in the process. Clare have made the Semi Final after a less than impressive 1 point win over Limerick but that shouldn't give any indication for what to expect on Sunday that Kerry will have a soft game. Clare may have had a mixed League campaign but have plenty of talent in their squad with Eoin Cleary and David Tubridy proving their worth in the Allianz League, and with Cleary’s clinical free taking the Kingdom will have to have improved on their discipline following the league campaign. Kerry may have lost some high profile players in the last year but seem to have plenty more players ready to step up, Paul Geaney really came into his own this league campaign and could be clinical to Kerry’s scores for the remaining championship campaign. Clare seem to have adopted a short kickout which has isolated Gary Brennan in Midfield but the Clare captain will still be an awkward customer should Joe Hayes the Clare goalkeeper decide to kick long.


It is sure to be an interesting test for both sides come Sunday, Clare are the fresher team going into Sunday’s Semi as Kerry have not played since the League Final against Dublin. We have not seen Captain Johnny Buckley start a game since last year's Semi Final and will be interesting to see if he is fully match fit or if Eamonn Fitzmaurice will take a risk or pass the armband to Fionn Fitzgerald who has deputised in the past in that role. Kerry’s team will be announced at 8pm on Friday evening, the winner on Sunday will march on to play Cork or Tipperary in this year’s Munster Final.


Players to watch: 


Clare:

Eoin Cleary: Clare’s top scorer in the Allianz Football League, Cleary scored a remarkable 1-31 and was his sides most impressive player throughout the league and will be someone Kerry will need to keep a close eye on as he already has scored 1-4 in this year’s championship and with the quality of his free taking discipline could become a huge factor.

David Tubridy & Luke Cleary: David Tubridy is another one of Clare’s high scoring forwards from their league campaign scoring 1-17, Tubridy starred for Clare in games where he was needed and offers experience to the side like his father Tommy before him and if given space could torment the Kerry backline.

Keelan Sexton: Finishing up with yet another of Clare’s forwards this time with the 19 year old Keelan Sexton, Sexton could be one to watch for the future of Clare football after scoring 3-3 in the league and 0-3 against Limerick in this year’s Munster Championship it is clear that the young man possesses talent and should not be treated lightly.


Kerry: 

Paul Geaney: One of the stars of Kerry’s eventual Allianz League Division 1 win, Geaney managed 3-42 for the league campaign and has grown into one of the best footballers the county has to offer since making his way to the senior set up in 2011, Geaney will make a difference if given an opportunity to move and break down the Clare defense.

Donnchadh Walsh: With the likes of Colm Cooper, Marc Ó Sé and Aidan O’Mahony all having retired this year, the experience of Donnchadh Walsh could be crucial to Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side, Donnchadh will be a familiar face to all in the green and gold since 2008 and after scoring 11 points in the league, he has plenty to offer going forward and is sometimes a very underrated player in the squad but remains a big voice in the dressing room should they need more leadership.


James O’Donoghue: James had an injury plagued league campaign missing the final against Dublin but it is hard to take away from his ability if he is fully fit. A former All Star for his phenomenal 2014 campaign where he scored 4-24 that championship year, he is someone that should not be taken lightly having managed 10 points in an injury plagued league is still impressive, should he be fit for Sunday and the Clare defence will not have an easy task on their hands.

Key Battle:


The Key Battle this weekend will be in midfield where Gary Brennan of Clare and  Kerry’s David Moran will be in opposition. Brennan was on the losing side on Club Final day in Croke Park but with the Hurlers of Ballyea after they were defeated by Cuala. Gary Brennan still remains the Clare captain this year and had a phenomenal 2016 in midfield. The 28 year old earned himself an All Star nomination that year but never made the team. Brennan has remained isolated in the Clare midfield as they have adopted a short kickout style but  his leadership could be a deciding factor on Sunday.


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