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kingdom win David Clifford produces moment of magic to complete hat-trick as classy Kerry hammer Galway

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 David Clifford of Kerry sells a dummy to Galway goalkeeper Bernard Power on the way to scoring his side's fourth goal

David Clifford of Kerry sells a dummy to Galway goalkeeper Bernard Power on the way to scoring his side's fourth goal

David Clifford of Kerry sells a dummy to Galway goalkeeper Bernard Power on the way to scoring his side's fourth goal

KERRY began the defence of a league title which at best they can only share by routing Galway in Tralee by 22 points

As Kerry are scheduled to play Clare in the quarter final of the Munster Championship a week after the Division 1 final, they won’t be participating in the decider if they reach it. Instead they will share the title with the other finalist.

David Clifford hit a hat-trick of goals - the third a sublime piece of skill - while his older brother Paudie scored the other on his full debut as Galway completely wilted on a forgettable afternoon for the Tribesmen.

The last time the Kingdom played a league tie in Tralee David Clifford was presented with the Division 1 trophy afterwards.

Two weeks later, Cork had dumped them out of the Championship, so they were on a mission of redemption this afternoon and they delivered in style, playing an attacking brand of football.

The defeat leaves Galway in a bind already. Unless they at least take a point from their home game against Dublin, they look certain to be involved in a relegation play-off in this new look league.

In contrast, Peter Keane can look forward to next weekend’s trip to Thurles for another tilt against All-Ireland champions Dublin with fresh confidence.

Kerry were forced to make a late change with Kenmare’s Kieran Fitzgibbon making his goalkeeping debut in the absence of the injured Shane Ryan. Goalkeeping coach Brendan Keely temporarily returned to playing duties and sat on the bench.

At the other end of the field Paudie Clifford, older brother of David, made his full debut after a couple of appearances off the bench last year.

Galway introduced new rookies Jack Glynn and Matthew Tierney – both of whom won All-Ireland U-20 medals last year.

Despite playing against the strong breeze it took the Kerry full forward line just two-and-half minutes to each register a point from play and an additional brace from David Clifford saw the Kingdom lead 4-1 after six minutes.

Galway opted to keep just two forwards, Damien Comer – who fisted his side’s first point – and Dessie Connelly up front. Interestingly, centre-back Gavin Crowley dropped back to pick up Comer.

Kerry’s full press on Galway’s kick-out left the visitors struggling to win primary possession.

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A Shane Walsh free yielded Galway’s first score on 11 minutes but it was a brief respite. Though they won Kerry’s kick after Walsh’s score, they surrendered possession by giving away a needless free for a foul hand-pass.

Kerry counter-attacked at speed and Killian Spillane and Sean O’Shea combined to draw the Galway defence, allowing David Clifford to tap the ball into an empty.

It was 1-7 to 0-2 at the first water break and though Galway managed to get their hands on the ball more often, their defence was repeatedly cut open.

Paudie Clifford scored his first goal for Kerry after 21 minutes after Dara Moynihan provided the assist. He could have hit a first-half hat trick. Goalkeeper Bernard Power denied him once while another shot just went wide at the far post after flying across the face of the goal.

By then Padraic Joyce had reacted to the rout, withdrawing Johnny Heaney and Peter Cooke and introducing Cathal Sweeney and Ronan Steede.

Galway hit two of the last three scores in the first half but still trailed by ten points at the break (2-10; 0-6).

The Kerry full-forward line had scored all but one point of their first-half tally – all from play. In fairness to the Galway full-back line they were offered afforded little protection. It was a replica of Galway’s woeful first half effort against Mayo after the resumption of the league last year.

Any remote chance of a revival vanished within four minutes of the re-start with David Clifford demonstrating his class with a brace of wonderful goals to bring Kerry’s goal tally to four.

His third, which came after a comedy of unenforced errors in the Galway rear guard, could have graced today’s FA Cup Final at Wembley.

Clifford didn’t bother getting the ball into his hand. Instead he initially looked about to rifle the ball goalward but instead he trapped it with his left foot before rifling an unstoppable shot into the corner of the Galway net.

His afternoon’s work was done, and he was withdrawn at the water break as Kerry used the opportunity to run their bench and it mattered little that Brian O’Beaglaoich picked up a black card.

It was all too easy for the Kingdom with 22 points separating the sides at the end.

Scorers - Kerry: D Clifford 3-6, 1f, 1m, S O’Shea 0-7, 3f, 2 45, 2m, P Clifford 1-2, K Spillane 0-4, P O’Shea, T Walsh 1m 0-1 each.

Galway: P Conroy 1f, D Comer, S Walsh 0-2 each. M Tierney, D Connelly, S Kelly, K Molloy, R Finnerty (1f) 0-1 each.

Kerry: K Fitzgibbon; B O Beaglaoich, T Morley, J Foley; P Murphy, G Crowley, G White; D Moran, J Barry, D Moynihan, S O’Shea, P Geaney; D Clifford, K Spillane, P Clifford.

Subs: P O’Shea for Geaney 43, D O’Connor for Moran 43, T Walsh for D Clifford 50, G O’Sullivan for G White 56, A Spillane for O Beaglaoich 56, M Burns for Moynihan 61, M Breen for Murphy 65

Galway: B Power; J Glynn, S Mulkerrin, L Silke; G O’Donnell, D McHugh, J Heaney; P O Cooke, P Conroy; P Kelly, M Tierney, E Brannigan; Dessie Connelly, D Comer, S Walsh.

Subs: C Sweeney for Heaney 27, R Steede for Cooke 27, R Finnerty for P Kelly ht; S Kelly for O’Donnell ht, F O Laoi for Conroy 49, T Culhane for Connelly 58, K Molloy for Brannigan 60.

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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