Eamonn Fitzmaurice will have learned very little in win over Clare

June 21st, 2016
by Weeshie Fogarty

It was always going to be a very difficult task for Clare, facing Kerry in Killarney in conditions perfect for championship football. A balmy June day, the taste of championship football in the air, big colourful crowd and the home county taking the first steps on a journey that must end with an All-Ireland victory, yes expectations are that demanding. So before they'd much time to settle into the task, Clare were faced with a mountain to climb on the scale of the daunting background that was the magnificent MacGillycuddy's Reeks. They also lost one of their central forwards before half-time as well, when Podge Collins was black-carded for a kick on Tadge Morley.

It was a pity to see the brilliant dual player walking discontentedly to the side line. Whatever are the rights and wrongs of the decision the managers son was having a fascinating battle with Kerry's debutant Brian o Beaglaoich and was easily Clare's most dangerous forward. Indeed as I watched him depart memories of a recent documentary on TV about the Clare man flashed through my mind. The cameras had followed his progress for twelve months as he battled back from a dreaded cruciate ligament in jury.

It was blood, sweat and tears stuff for Podge, long days and evenings, winter and summer on his own cycling, walking, weights, and physiotherapy as he slowly build up the knee. Now here he was in his first championship game back with his beloved Clare and the three card trick which is used completely different by so many referees ended his participation. A story for another day but surely the words "common sense" should be added to the rule book.

Kerry were out of the blocks in flying style and the green flag was waving twice within five minutes, Colm Coopers attempt for a point dropped short, Joe Hayes in the Clare goal misjudged the flight of the ball and  after just eighty seconds the damage was done. The very impressive Stephen o Brien was set up by Paul Murphy and he found the net via the near post. The Kenmare Shamrocks man added another point, seven minutes gone, and Kerry seven points up. It was all over bar the shouting before it even began.

Eamon Fitzmaurice will have learned very little really in relation to what lies down the line when the final stages of the championship are reached. Conceding seventeen points will be a worry and at times during both halves when Clare ran at the Kerry defense they caused problems.  Shane Enright had a great outing and seems to have shaken off that injury he had during the league campaign. The Tarbert man was moving very well and the defense as a whole were solid, speedy and supported the forwards excellently.

The two new comers Tadgh Morley and Brian o Beaglaoich will benefit greatly for the experience of this outing and as you would expect they tired near the end before being substituted. This is the big learning experience for any young players however the real test is yet to come for them. I am beginning to wonder about the role Paul Murphy is assigned, foraging between the backs and his chosen position as a forward. I feel this outstanding battler and man marker he will be needed full time in defense as the final stages are reached and with James o Donoghue and Johnny Buckley coming back the choice for the selectors in the forward division is more than adequate.  

Kieran Donaghy work rate is massive, he ranged all over the field and of course the option of switching him in to full forward for a spell if necessary to change the game plan is always there. Indeed Paul Geaney at full forward was very impressive and between him Colm Cooper and Stephen o Brien they amassed a total of 2-11, all from play. Nine players getting on the score sheet and 2-19 from play is fairly impressive.

I spoke to the exemplary Clare manager Colm Collins after the game and he put his finger on it when he confessed the jump from playing divisions three teams to taking on the likes of Kerry is simply too big a step for one game a year and mistakes are punished  ruthlessly. The Kerry bench was also used to the full and good to see Anthony Maher make his return to mid field.

Little did I think when I wrote the following here last week how massive a shock was in store as Tipperary beat Cork for the first time since 1944, "When push comes to shove with Cork they just fold, their capitulation to Kildare in the qualifying game last year, 1-21 to 1-13 was a sad sight, Kildare were later hammered by Kerry, and when you realise that Cork should have beaten Kerry in that drawn Munster final then there is some deep underlying confidence problem there, a soft centre, lack of belief which comes to the surface, out of nowhere".

It was a massive victory for Liam Kerins the Austin Stacks man and now Tipperary manager but for Cork a massive task lies ahead. With their hurlers and footballers performing so poorly on the big stage those deep underlying problems I referred will have to be addressed very quickly in an open and honest forum.  Kerry will be hot favourites to beat Tipp in the Munster final, it will pose a completely different challenge for the Kerry management and players and when it's all over and  the game is won just like last Sunday  very little will have been learned as Dublin continue to overshadow and await all opposition.  Because that is the bottom line

Fogra; I have in my possession a 1992 Munster under 21 football Championship medal which was found lost recently in Killarney. The finder trusted me to locate the owner and so far I have failed. Kerry beat Waterford, Limerick and Cork in the Munster final that year but fell to Tyrone in the All-Ireland semifinal. The Kerry winning panel that year was made up of the following players so one of them is without his beautiful gold medal. Paul Curran, Peter Keane, Conor Kearney, Pa Laide, Bernard McElligott, John O'Connell, Johnny O'Driscoll, Declan O'Keeffe, Billy O'Shea, Kieran O'Shea, Billy O'Sullivan, Fergus Stack, Danny Guerin, Seamus Moynihan, Genie Farrell, Dermot Weeshie Lynch, Seamus McIntyre, Paud O'Donoghue, Sean P O'Sullivan, John Cronin, Sean Culloty, John Doona, Pat Driscoll, Garry Stack, Jason Wieboldt. Any information that would help locate the owner would be great.

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