Kingdom enjoy stroll in the Pairc to retain Munster crown
Kerry 0-24 Cork 0-12
Kerry ensured the final Munster football final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh before the redevelopment ended in misery for the home side as the Kingdom emphatically retained their provincial crown.
It was a wretched performance from Brian Cuthbert’s side as they struggled to contain a Kerry forward division that wreaked havoc for the entire match and dispelled notions that the loss of Colm Copper would scupper their chances of silverware.
Kerry ensured that the 25th meeting of the two arch-rivals since the turn of the century would be a memorable occasion for the Green and Gold and increased their eight point lead at half time to by the end of the 70 minutes.
The home side got off to an encouraging start when dual star Aidan Walsh kicked the opening score of the game in the second minute, jinking past two Kerry defenders before slotting over the bar, quickly followed by a left-footed strike from Daniel Goulding.
James O’Donoghue got the reigning Munster champions off the mark despite some tigerish Rebel defending while Johnny Buckley made the most of the wind at the Kerry backs to float over the equalising score.
Cork corner-forward Barry O’Driscoll got the first sniff of goals after just six minutes when he was fouled. Referee Cormac Reilly adjudged the shirt-pulling to have occurred outside the 21metre line and Goold slotted over the simple free.
That sparked an impressive response from the visitors as they rattled off an incredible eleven scores in a row to dominate proceedings at Pairc Ui Chaoimh and set the foundations for victory.
O’Donoghue and Paul Keaney had the better of their individual match-ups and caused serious damage in the Cork rearguard, the pair ending the half with seven points between them, six from play.
Returning Johnny Buckley showed his worth with a dominant display, scoring two points from midfield and giving Kerry the edge in the middle third of the pitch.
Stephen O’Brien was another of the new crop of players to show his potential and his point on the half hour mark increased Kerry’s advantage to seven points.
Kerry had a wonderful opportunity to hammer home their advantage when Sheehan waltzed through a porous Cork defence to blast over the bar with the goal at his mercy, before Geaney and Declan Sullivan added further points to put the game further out of Cork’s reach
In the midst of that purple patch for Kerry, the home side lost blood substitute Ruairi Deane to what looked to be a serious knee injury. The Bantry Blues man, who only recently returned after an injury lay-off, was stretchered off after attempting to tackle O’Donoughue.
Brian Cuthbert’s shell-shocked side managed to stem the tide somewhat with the final two points of the half, with Goulding’s free in injury-time Cork’s first score in nearly half an hour as they trailed 0-13 to 0-05 at the break.
Colm O’Neill was one of two half-time substitutions and he made an immediate contribution when he was tripped to allow Brian Hurley get himself onto the scoreboard with a close-range free.
With the breeze at their backs and some personnel and tactical changes, the Rebels began brightly, but it was Kerry who had another golden chance to raise the green flag. Sheehan demonstrated his aerial ability once again and the ball found its way to O’Brien who crashed his effort off the crossbar.
Sheehan, along with O’Donoghue in attack, was central to Kerry attacks and his accuracy from dead balls was a joy to behold. He curled over an inch-perfect 45 before the pick of the bunch was his free on the 21 metre line near the touchline.
The pattern of the first half quickly resumed as the Kingdom glided through the Cork defence at will and Kerry manager Eamon Fitzmaurice had the luxury of introducing Kieran Donaghy, Barry John Keane, Darran O’Sullivan and Kieran O’Leary from the substitute’s bench with little pressure on the scoreboard.
To rub salt into the wounds, Cork sub John Hayes was shown a red card for a high tackle on Declan Sullivan, but it was the Kingdom who ran out comfortable 12 point winners.
Kerry march on to the All-Ireland quarter-finals while Cuthbert will have to rally his troops ahead of the All-Ireland Football qualifiers.
Scorers for Kerry: J O’Donoghue 0-10 (0-2f), B Sheehan (0-2f, 0-1 45), J Buckley 0-4 each, P Geaney 0-3, S O’Brien, D Walsh, Declan O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: D Goulding 0-6 (0-3f, 0-1 45), B Hurley 0-4 (0-3f), A Walsh, F Goold 0-1 each.
KERRY: B Kelly; P Murphy, S Enright, M Ó Sé; A O’Mahony, K Young, F Fitzgerald; A Maher, B Sheehan; D Walsh, Declan O’Sullivan, J Buckley; J O’Donoghue, P Geaney, S O’Brien. Subs: P Crowley for O’Mahony (49), Darran O’Sullivan for O’Brien (52), D Moran for Sheehan (56), K O'Leary for Walsh (60), BJ Keane for O’Donoghue (62), K Donaghy for Buckley (65).
CORK: K O’Halloran; N Galvin, E Cadogan, M Shields; D Cahalane, Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty), J Loughrey; A Walsh, F Goold; B O’Driscoll, P Kelly, J O’Rourke; D Goulding, B Hurley, P Kerrigan. Subs: R Deane for Goold (16-21, blood sub), C O’Driscoll for O’Rourke, C O’Neill for Kelly (both half-time), M Collins for B O’Driscoll (52), J O’Sullivan for Clancy (Clonakilty) (51), J Hayes for Walsh (57), Tomás Clancy (Fermoy) for Galvin (62).