KERRY 1-7AS expected, it was a real doddle for Cork in this Bank of Ireland Munster SHC first-round game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday and the ridiculousness of playing a one-sided game like this was not lost on anybody.In truth, Cork would have been far better off playing a decent challenge match. Kerry were totally ill-equipped for the job th
John Barry reports on the mis-match that was Sunday’s Munster SHC first-round game between Cork and Kerry at Páirc Ui ChaoimhCORK 4-19
AS expected, it was a real doddle for Cork in this Bank of Ireland Munster SHC first-round game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday and the ridiculousness of playing a one-sided game like this was not lost on anybody.
In truth, Cork would have been far better off playing a decent challenge match. Kerry were totally ill-equipped for the job they were being asked to do and, indeed, there was a suggestion going around afterwards that they might not even compete in the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
The bottom line is that too many players capable of helping the Kerry cause have dropped right out of the picture, for different reasons, and that takes you in only one direction — straight into a cul de sac.
Yes, Cork could — and should — have made the gesture of coming to Tralee, or Killarney, on Sunday, but it would have made absolutely no difference. They would still have won as they pleased.
And, you know something, it wasn’t so much the 21-point margin of defeat that has left Kerry pondering their future in relation to the All-Ireland Qualifiers. There is, it seems, a general air of real gloom hanging over the Kerry camp at the moment, and for the past few weeks, and that is far more serious.
Certainly, it’s one hell of a comedown from last year, when Kerry almost beat Limerick in the All-Ireland Qualifiers. You also think about the fact that, eleven years ago, Kerry were able to beat Waterford in the Munster senior championship in Walsh Park . . . and look what Waterford, with a few of the same players, did to Clare in Thurles on Sunday!
Anyway, it was all made very easy for Cork in Páirc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday, though there were a few redeeming features from a Kerry point of view.
One of them was the outstanding display of Tadhg Flynn between the Kerry posts. He made three wonderful saves early on in the game, when it looked as if the Cork forwards would cut the Kerry defence to ribbons altogether, and right at the end he did remarkably well to deflect a goaling attempt by Cork substitute, John Anderson, over the bar.
The Kerry full-back line of Brendan Blackwell, Aidan Healy and Andrew Keane are entitled to a modicum of praise too, given the immense amount of pressure to which they were subjected, and so are the half-back line, with James McCarthy, in the centre, particularly prominent.
It might seem ridiculous to be praising a goalkeeper and defence which conceded 4-19, but at least they fought the good fight.
However, it was difficult to identify other Kerry players with worthwhile contributions to their credit, though Errol Tuohy, in attack, was one of those who never gave up the fight and did really well to score a goal and a point.
As far as Cork were concerned, they were particularly dominant in the half-back line and Michael O’Connell, in particular, got through a pile of work at midfield. The contribution of others meant that Cork won the possession game hands down and, of course, the gulf in class between the two sides was always glaringly obvious.
A disappointment, from a Kerry point of view, was that forty yards man, Shane Brick, was rather anonymous in general play and didn’t really benefit from a move to midfield.
Cork, surprisingly, indulged in a lot of short passing and there was nothing all that exciting about it. Indeed, if they persist in this style of play they could be playing right into Limerick’s hands next time out, even if Limerick’s chances against them are being viewed as rather slim.
In fairness, some nice touches were produced, by Joe Deane in particular, and it has to be said that Cork did no more than was necessary to win this game. When they did pull well ahead, they were happy enough with that and didn’t attempt to bury Kerry altogether.
The heroics of Kerry ‘keeper, Tadhg Flynn, prevented them from getting a few early goals and, indeed, it wasn’t until the 29th minute that Cork finally rattled the Kerry net, Ben O’Connor getting in behind the Kerry defensive cover following a long ball out of defence by Diarmuid O’Sullivan and finishing clinically.
It was 1-9 to 0-1 in Cork’s favour at half-time, which was pretty reasonable as far as Kerry were concerned, but the gap began to grow much wider as the second half progressed and it was 3-14 to 0-2 by the 50th minute.
Both of Kerry’s points had come from Shane Brick frees and one wondered if there would be any score from play at all by them.
However, Errol Tuohy was to answer that particular question with a long-range point in the 51st minute and the same player was to put his name to a goal in the 68th minute, through the dent of hard graft.
Perhaps the loudest cheer from a very small crowd, nearly all from Cork, came when Brian Corcoran, on his return to championship hurling in the red jersey for the first time since 2001, found the Kerry net for his team’s fourth goal in the 55th minute.
But everything was merely of academic interest at this stage and Corcoran will have to prove himself on a more testing stage than this one.
Kerry, at least, put a few more scores on the board before the end and, indeed, probably the best point of the game came from their centre half-back, James McCarthy, who pointed a mighty free from just outside his own 65-metre line.
Another outstanding point, this one from play, came from corner--forward, John Egan, whilst wing-forward, Pat O'Connell, had the satisfaction of putting over two second-half points, one from play and the other from a free.
It was a big improvement on the single point which Kerry had managed to score in the first half, but, with all due respects, they were merely token scores.
Cork, if they had felt like it, could have made it far more painful for Kerry at the end and, really, this was a meaningless exercise for them. They certainly learned nothing new about themselves, they can’t say if Brian Corcoran is ready for a comeback, and, in relation to their short-passing game last Sunday, they are inviting trouble if they don’t adopt more forceful and direct tactics.
I mean, if the short passing doesn’t work all that well against Kerry . . .
It should also be added that Cork hit 19 wides. A big improvement in accuracy required there.
Scorers: Cork — Joe Deane, 1-5 (0-2 frees), John Gardiner, 1-1; Ben O’Connor, 1-1 (0-1, free), Brian Corcoran, 1-1; Jerry O’Connor, 0-3; Michael O’Connell, 0-2 (0-1, free), Niall McCarthy, 0-2; Jonathan O’Callaghan, 0-2; Ronan Curran, 0-1 (penalty), and John Anderson, 0-1 each.
Kerry — Errol Tuohy, 1-1; Shane Brick, 0-2 (frees), Pat O’Connell, 0-2 (0-1, free), James McCarthy, 0-1 (free), John Egan, 0-1.
Cork: Donal Óg Cusack; Brian Murphy, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Cian O’Connor; Tom Kenny, Ronan Curran, Sean Óg O hAilpín; John Gardiner, Michael O’Connell; Jerry O’Connor, Niall McCarthy, Timmy McCarthy; Ben O’Connor, Joe Deane, Jonathan O’Callaghan.
Subs: John Anderson for Niall McCarthy, Brian Corcoran for Joe Deane, Paul Tierney for John Gardiner, John Browne for Tom Kenny, Brendan Lombard for Jonathan O’Callaghan.
Kerry: Tadhg Flynn; Brendan Blackwell, Aidan Healy, Andrew Keane; Kieran O’Sullivan, James McCarthy, Colin Harris; Aidan Cronin, Darren Young; Ivan McCarthy, Shane Brick, Pat O’Connell; Errol Tuohy, John Mike Dooley, John Egan.
Subs: Liam Boyle for Darren Young, Michael Lucid for Ivan McCarthy.
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).