Kingdom rout puts provincial system in spotlight once again

May 28, 2022

Another Munster football final, another mismatch. Last year the margin between Kerry and Cork was 22 points. Yesterday it was 23 points in Fitzgerald Stadium.

ot since 1919 when Kerry beat Clare 6-11 to 2-0 has there been a 23-point winning margin in a Munster final.

“We won’t sugar coat it. We will take our beating. We are not in the business of hiding from what happened. There is no point. We have a lot to learn,” acknowledged Limerick boss Billy Lee.

But he declined to answer any questions about the structure of the All-Ireland series. “Not interested in it today. We’ve got to look at ourselves today. To me, that would be deflecting.”

For Kerry much of the focus was on David Clifford who was left out of the match-day squad due to injury. But team manager Jack O’Connor said the ace is likely to resume full training next week.

“He picked up an injury against Cork. We weren’t being clever or anything, but we thought it was going to come right. But it just took a bit longer to come around than we thought. The medical advice was not to play him in this game.

“He’s gone back doing a bit (of training), away from the full training.”

“Look, sure of course you’d probably prefer to get a stiffer test but look, we set out our stall, we had certain targets in the game. By and large we met most of them.

“We were a bit unhappy with the start, we only had three scores from eight attacks early on, so I thought we were a bit wasteful there. Towards the end of the first half in particular and the start of the second half we upped the ante, and we were comfortable enough after that.”

O’Connor deflected questions about the structure of the All-Ireland series.

“It’s not my issue. Sure of course people will talk like that but what can you do? We just have to play the games that are in front of us and do as good as we can so that’s for somebody else to decide that.

He was more concerned about the four-week break until Kerry’s next game in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

“Of course, four weeks is an issue and that’s why the system next year is going to be fairer for everybody. I’m not too concerned about the game today, but I am relatively concerned about having four weeks off.

“I’ve gone on record as saying that we’ve played eight games in 10 weeks in the League and we’re playing three games in 12 weeks in the Championship and sure that can’t be right. That system has to be fixed.”


Sean Orsquo;Shea of Kerry lifts the cup after the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Limerick at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Sean O’Shea of Kerry lifts the cup after the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Limerick at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Sean O’Shea of Kerry lifts the cup after the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Limerick at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

The story of the game is easily told. Limerick were competitive for 15 minutes restricting a wasteful Kerry to 0-2. But in the second quarter Kerry improved outscoring the Division 2 side 10-2 which extinguished any notion that the second half might be competitive.

Realistically Limerick never stood a chance. Granted, they have had a momentous season securing promotion to Division 2 for the first time and appearing in their first Munster final since 2010. But as Lee acknowledged they are still on a steep learning curve.

But why the GAA authorities persist with this format for the premier competition defies logic

But then Kerry together with several of the other big powers in football including Dublin, Galway and Mayo all voted against proposals to reform it at the GAA Congress in February.

It is the one-sided nature of so many games in the provincial series rather than the split season which is the reason the football championship has passed unnoticed.

The attendance of 14,587 witnessed a game rather than a contest.

Kerry had 11 different scorers with Killian Spillane hitting 1-3. Three defenders Tom O’Sullivan, Brian O’Beaglaoich and Gavin White chipped in with 0-6 from play. The poverty of the Limerick attack is underlined by the fact none of their forwards scored from play.

Kerry now have a four week wait until the All-Ireland quarter final which is arguably their most hazardous assignment of the season. Meanwhile, The four teams that come through Round 1 of the qualifiers next weekend will all relish an opportunity to meet Limerick in the last 12 of the All-Ireland series.

The historical gulf in football standards between the counties is underlined by the fact that Kerry were appearing in their 107th Munster final whereas it was just a thirteenth appearance for Limerick, who won their only title in 1896.

Killian Spillane celebrated his return to first team action by kicking a point after 41 seconds and though he was replaced with twenty minutes left he was the team’s leading scorer from play with a 1-3 tally.

Midfielder Jack Barry put in a big shift as well and Limerick wing-back Cian Sheehan deserves a mention for scoring 0-3 from play.

But the take home message from a sun-drenched Killarney is that the provincial system in Munster is broken and almost certainly beyond repair – at least in the short term.

Scorers: Kerry: S O’Shea 0-6, (1f, 1 45), K Spillane 1-3, P Guiney 0-4 (1m), T O’Sullivan, T Brosnan 0-3 each; B O Beaglaíoch, P Clifford, M Burns 0-2 each, G White, S O’Brien, A Spillane 0-1 each.

Limerick: C Sheehan 0-3, J Ryan 0-2 (1 45, 1f), I Corbett 0-2, G Brown 0-1

Kerry: S Ryan; T O’Sullivan, J Foley, G O’Sullivan; B O Beaglaíoch,T Morley, G White; D O’Connor, j Barry; P Clifford, S O’Shea, S O’Brien; K Spillane, P Geaney, T Brosnan. Subs: A Spillane for O’Brien (52), D Casey for Foley (52), D Moran for O’Connor (52), M Burns for K Spillane (52), P Murphy for Morley (56), G Crowley for

O’Beaglaioch (blood sub) (57)

Limerick: D O’Sullivan; M Donovan, B Fanning, S O’Dea; C Sheehan, I Corbett, A Enright; D Treacy, C Fahy; P Maher, B Donovan, J Naughton; P Nash, j Ryan, H Bourke. Subs: R Bourke for H Bourke (ht), G Brown for Maher (46), T Griffin for Enright (46), C McSweeney for Nash (46)

Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)

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