Thursday 13 December 2018

Horan sinks Cork in Under 20 final

Munster Under 20 Football Final: Cork 0-14 Kerry 3-11

Maurice Shanley of Cork leaves the field dejected after the Eir Grid Munster GAA Football U20 Championship Final match between Kerry and Cork at Austin Stack Park. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Maurice Shanley of Cork leaves the field dejected after the Eir Grid Munster GAA Football U20 Championship Final match between Kerry and Cork at Austin Stack Park. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile

Jason O'Connor, Austin Stack Park

Another very close run thing for a Cork side in getting the better of a Kerry side, but like two nights earlier with the Juniors at the same venue, Kerry just found a way to get the better of the Rebels when it mattered.

It started brilliantly for the visitors in scoring the opening three points inside as many minutes as Kerry were a small bit caught out by Cork claiming a foothold in midfield and Mark Keane operating in the full-forward line.

Kerry did level the scores up but Keane put Cork back in front as Kerry's goal threat became evident in the next score. Wing-forward Fiachra Clifford floated a promising high ball into Kerry forward David Shaw who took little time to turn and shoot in the 13th minute and get the ball past Ian Giltinan for a Kerry lead of 1-3 to 0-4.

Cork's response was what you wanted it to be to such a setback, however, as they hit the next four points, three going from full-forward Chris Óg Jones as they looked like taking a lead at half-time.

The hosts did find a way to draw level, but Giltinan was alert to a goal chance for Kerry's Cormac Linnane before the break as Colm O'Callaghan and Clifford for Kerry exchanged points in the sides going in level at 1-6 to 0-9.

A free from Jones was the only score in the opening 11 minutes of the second period as Maurice Shanley was left to rue the woodwork with another decent chance for the Rebels.

Kerry introduced Eddie Horan in a surprise substitute on Shaw and he had an almost instant effect running in for a break from Fiachra Clifford to the end line and he had the composure to finish the pass to the net for a lead of 2-6 to 0-10.

It didn't look promising for Kerry though when Dara Moynihan was black carded in the 43rd minute as their goalkeeper Brian Lonergan also had to catch a big high ball from underneath the crossbar, but Kerry managed to go up a gear in the final quarter that the Rebels unfortunately had no answer for.

Moynihan's black card replacement Seán O'Leary and Graham O'Sullivan put over three points that kept their side ahead on the scoreboard as the decisive score came in the 54th minute.

Kevin O'Donovan picked up a black card for a foul on Kerry captain Donal O'Sullivan as he bore down on goal with a penalty awarded. Mark Ryan converted the Kingdom spot-kick to put them ahead by 3-9 to 0-12 as, despite Cork reigning high ball on top of Kerry in order to salvage something, Kerry's Stefan Okunbor was a strong presence in their full-back line.

Jones finished with a personal total of 0-7 (2f) as Mark Keane put over Cork's last score on a night Cork's prominence at midfield just could not quite turn into a victory in the way they would have wanted.

The Rebels first year in a new grade ends at Munster Final level, probably what a lot of outsiders would have predicted going on Kerry's recent dominance at Minor level.

This Cork side distinguished themselves well last Friday evening though as they gave Kerry a very serious examination much like the Minor side had done two years ago in Fitzgerald Stadium.

Three defeats for Cork sides in Austin Stack Park this year is a tough one to take, but the Under 20s and Juniors showed that there is promise there that Cork can get back to winning ways in Munster with a bit more belief.

Cork: Ian Giltinan (Carraigaline); Nathan Walsh, Sean Walsh (Douglas), Kevin O'Donovan (Mitchelstown); Liam O'Donovan (Nemo Rangers), Liam O'Donovan (Clonakilty) Aidan Browne (Newmarket), Tom Lenihan (St Michaels); Colm O'Callaghan (Eire Óg, 0-2), Mark Keane (Mitchelstown, 0-2); Maurice Shanley (Clonakilty), Tadhg Corkery (Cill Na Martra, 0-1), Cathal Maguire (Castlehaven); Colm Barrett (St Finbarrs, 0-1), Chris Óg Jones (Iveleary, 0-7, 2f), Damien Gore (Kilmacabea, 0-1) Subs: Sean (Mitchelstown) for Maguire, Killian Myers-Murray (St Finbarrs) for Shanley, Matthew Bradley (Aghabullogue) for Barrett, Mark Cronin for Gore, Alan McCarthy (Nemo Rangers) for O'Donovan (black card) and Liam Wall (St Finbarrs) for Walsh

Kerry: Brian Lonergan; David Naughton, Stefan Okunbor, Micheál Reidy; Mike Breen; Graham O'Sullivan (0-1), Daniel O'Brien; Mark Ryan (1-0, 1p), Diarmuid O'Connor; Fiachra Clifford (0-2, 1f), Cormac Linnane (0-2), Dara Moynihan; Donal O'Sullivan (0-4, 1f), Bryan Sweeney, David Shaw (1-0) Subs: Brian Friel for Linnane, Eddie Horan (1-0) for Shaw, Sean O'Leary (0-2) for Moynihan (black card), Michael Potts for Clifford, Michéal Foley for O'Connor and Cian Gammell for Naughton

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)

The Game in 60 seconds

Main Man

Mark Keane and Chris Óg Jones deserve special mention for their efforts on the night for Cork but Kerry's Stefan Okunbor was the stand-out player in the full-back line as he received the official plaudits for his display in repelling plenty of strong Rebel pressure.

Key Moment

How Kerry responded to Dara Moynihan's black card midway through the second period was a big factor. Had they let it get to them they might have lost out with Cork's pressure starting to pile, but they started the course and got the necessary nerve to overcome that setback and seeing out proceedings for a three point win.

Talking Point

In the interests of player welfare it was totally the right decision to allow for breaks in play for water. While not as warm as some of the other days in this present heatwave, a lot of humidity hung in the air and made it all the more difficult for the players as much as trying to take on their opposition.