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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
# McGrath Cup
Jack O'Connor's return to Kerry helm begins with 23-point defeat of Limerick
The Clifford brothers found the net for The Kingdom against an experimental-looking Limerick.

Kerry 2-23

Limerick 0-6

Paul Brennan reports from Tralee

RETURNING KERRY MANAGER Jack O’Connor will know better than most that the seat he occupies will get a damn lot hotter as the season progresses, but on a bitingly cold night in Tralee he got an armchair ride from his team as they piled a 23-point defeat on Limerick in this McGrath Cup opener.

If patrons were expecting anything like the extra-time thriller that was the 2017 McGrath Cup final, which Kerry edged the win by four points, they were gravely disappointed by this evening’s mismatch. Truth is, they probably knew – or at least feared – this outcome once O’Connor named a very strong team, and Limerick came with some names less known even back home.

Kerry gave starts to Shane Murphy in goal, Dan O’Donoghue and Pa Warren in defence, and Stefan Okunbor at midfield, and after that the team was filled with players who had all played Championship football in 2021. And it showed.

By the fifth minute Paudie Clifford had the ball in the Limerick goal, and by the first water break brother David had poked Paul Geaney’s inviting pass past Limerick captain and goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan. Ahead 2-4 to 0-1 at the water break, the result was a formality, and at 2-13 to 0-3 at half time, it was merely of case by how big a margin Kerry wanted to win by.

paudie-clifford-scores-a-goal-despite-rory-obrien Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Paudie Clifford scores a goal. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

As is the way with these games, the second half was speckled with substitutions, mitigating against any sort of open, free-flowing match. Though Limerick were completely outclassed they managed to pick off a few scores, including a bouncer from Robbie Bourke and a fine point from Peter Nash near the end.

Kerry introduced Sean O’Shea, Tony Brosnan and Jack Savage – among others – in the second half, and they kept the scoreboard rolling over, though the home side never really hunted for more goals as the game fizzled out.

It’s Tipperary in Thurles in a week’s time for Kerry, where O’Connor will surely hope for a sterner test. Kerry will give Okunbor and Warren back to their clubs for upcoming Munster finals, and they might gain one or two others such as Gavin White and Tadhg Morley.

Scorers for Kerry: David Clifford 1-4 (0-1, 0-1m), Paudie Clifford 1-2, Sean O’Shea 0-4 (3f), Paul Geaney 0-3 (1f, 1m), Tony Brosnan 0-3 (1f), Killian Spillane 0-2, Pa Warren 0-1, Gavin Crowley 0-1, Dara Moynihan 0-1, Stephen O’Brien 0-1, Micheal Burns 0-1

Scorers for Limerick: Cillian Fahy 0-2, Dara Noonan 0-1, Peter Nash 0-1, Robbie Bourke 0-1, Liam O’Sullivan 0-1

Kerry

1. Shane Murphy (Dr Crokes);

2. Dan O’Donoghue (Spa), 3. Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue), 4. Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle);

5. Pa Warren (Gneeveguilla), 6. Mike Breen (Beaufort), 7. Gavin Crowley (Templenoe);

8. Stefan Okunbor (Na Gaeil), 9. Adrian Spillane (Templenoe);

10. Dara Moynihan (Spa), 11. Paudie Clifford (Fossa), 12. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare Shamrocks);

13. Killian Spillane (Templenoe), 14. David Clifford (Fossa), 15. Paul Geaney (Dingle).

Subs:

17. Tony Brosnan (Dr Crokes) for D Clifford (HT); 24. Cian Gammell (Legion) for P Warren (HT); 19. Sean O’Shea (Kenmare Shamrocks) for S Okunbor (HT); 18. Brian Ó Beaglaíoch (An Ghaeltacht) for M Breen (44); 20. Michael Burns (Dr Crokes) for P Clifford (44); 21. Jack Savage (Kerins O’Rahillys) for D Moynihan (50); 22. Paul O’Shea (Kilcummin) for A Spillane (51); 23. Dara Roche (Glenflesk) for P Geaney (54)

Limerick

1. Donal O’Sullivan (Monaleen);

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2. Jim Liston (Gerald Griffins), 3. Luke Murphy (Monaleen), 4. Maurice O’Sullivan (Galtee Gaels);

5. Tony McCarthy (Kildimo/Pallaskenry), 6. Cillian Fahy (Dromcollogher-Broadford), 7. Colm McSweeney (Gerald Griffins);

8. Darragh Treacy (St Kierans), 21. Rory O’Brien (Fr Caseys);

10. Padraig De Brún (Firies, Kerry), 19. Diarmuid Kelly (Newcastlewest), 12. Dara Noonan (Gerald Griffins);

13. Peter Nash (Kildimo/Pallaskenry), 14. Robbie Bourke (Adare), 15. Hugh Bourke (Adare).

Subs:

18. Liam O’Sullivan (Kildimo/Pallaskenry) for M O’Sullivan (16); 22. John Hayes (St Kierans) for R O’Brien (46); 20. Barry Coleman (Rathkeale) for R Bourke (46); 23. Shane Barry (Mungret St Pauls) for D Kelly (53); 24. Darragh Ranahan (Ballysteen) for J Liston (59)

Referee: John Ryan (Cork)

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