Galway endured a nightmare start to their Allianz League campaign when they ran into a runaway Kerry train in Tralee this afternoon (Saturday ) losing by nineteen points to a home team obviously still stung by their late capitulation to Cork last autumn.
Choosing to play with the aid of an awkward breeze, Galway started brightly with Comer equalising with a fine point after two minutes, but that was as good as it got for Padraic Joyce’s side, as the fast movement and high press of the hosts saw them pin back Galway to devastating effect.
Man of the Match David Clifford led the defence a merry dance, scoring at will, aided by O Se, Spillane and his own brother Paudie, and scoring a hat trick of exceptional goals.
Early points from the Clifford brothers and Spillane sent the home side ahead again, but the fast movement of the Kerry forwards signalled that something big was on the cards for the home team.
Scores from Clifford and a free from Walsh made it a four-point game, but Kerry struck back with O’Se’s clever pass leaving Clifford free to leap and palm home past Bernard Power. The Galway keeper had to react almost immediately to stop a second goal as Galway looked at sixes and sevens. Minutes later, the impressive Paudie Clifford was left with the simple task of firing to the bottom corner for Kerry’s second goal and a rout looked on the cards.
Power came to the rescue to deny Paudie Clifford another goal almost immediately, and when the same player rounded the keeper a few minutes later, only to shoot wide, the disarray in Galway’s defence was obvious.
Galway trailed by ten points at the break, but it should have been much worse given the opportunities they were presenting to the rampaging Kerry forwards. The entire full forward line had scored inside the first ten minutes.
Any hopes of a reprieve for Galway after the break were short-lived when David Clifford fired home two goals; the first a rocket after some clever movement; the second (and his third ) a smart dragback on the floor which sent the Galway defence sprawling, allowing him to lift his shot into the empty net.
The goal was retweeted by Kerry’s Sheffield United player John Egan with the question ‘Clifford or Messi? But the only thing messy was Galway’s inability to make any challenge to Kerry’s superiority, even when the home team were reduced to fourteen men.
Some late substitutions gave Tomo Culhane, Sean Kelly and Kieran Molloy a chance to shine, but it was all too little too late for Galway who now face a must-win game against Roscommon in Tuam next weekend.
Joyce and his team will have much work to do to get the team back to the form they showed before the first lockdown. The capitulation to Mayo after the restart last year hampered their progress and if they are to taste success this year, they will have to ensure that this latest setback does not have the same negative impact.
For Kerry, their workrate and finishing sets them up for a promising season and eyes will now move to their clash with Dublin next weekend.
Scorers for Kerry: D Clifford 3-6 (0-1f, 0-1m ), S O’Shea 0-7 (4f, 1m, 2 ‘45’ ), P Clifford 1-2, K Spillane 0-4, P O’Shea 0-1, T Walsh 0-1 (m )
Scorers for Galway: P Conroy 0-2 (1f ), D Comer 0-2, S Walsh 0-2 (1f ), M Tierney 0-1, D Conneely 0-1, S Kelly 0-1, K Molloy 0-1, R Finnerty 0-1 (f )
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: Paul O’Shea for P Geaney (41 ), Diarmuid O’Connor for D Moran (41 ), Tommy Walsh for D Clifford (51 ), Adrian Spillane for B O Beagaloich (56 ), Graham O’Sullivan for G White (56 ), Micheal Burns for D Moynihan (61 ), Mike Breen for P Murphy (66 )
GALWAY: Bernard Power, Jack Glynn, Seán Ó Maoilchiaráin, 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 J Heaney (27 ), Ronan Steede for P Cooke (27 ), Robert Finnerty for P Kelly (h-t ), Sean Kelly for G O’Donnell (h-t ), Finnian O Laoi for P Conroy (49, inj ), Tomo Culhane for D Conneely (58 ), Kieran Molloy for E Brannigan (60 )
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork )