Tuesday 22 January 2019

Kerry strike back despite late late Rebels revival

Munster MFC Semi-Final: Cork 1-10 Kerry 1-11

A dejected Evan Cooke of Cork following the game. Photo by Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile
A dejected Evan Cooke of Cork following the game. Photo by Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile

Jason O'Connor, Austin Stack Park, Tralee

Not for the want of trying but a Cork Minor team once again came up agonisingly short in their efforts to get the better of Kerry at provincial level as despite appearing to have forced extra-time there would be a late Kingdom winner before the final whistle.

The outcome was as tough on the Rebels efforts as the format is for the losers at this stage, but Cork will reflect on not making more use of the breeze in the first period as being one of the main reasons they didn't come out on top.

The hosts scoring 1-1 in the opening seven minutes was a big factor in that, Paul Walsh with the Kerry goal as it allowed them to adopt a more defensive approach in trying to stifle Cork's use of the elements?

Cullen's Francis Cronin was trying hard to forage forward, but when Niall Hartnett managed to get a hold of the game at midfield Cork looked far more threatening. A number of factors conspired against the though, Kerry scoring on the counter, some chances going awry along with the crossbar and Kerry defender Colm Moriarty denying the impressive Conor Corbett from Clyda Rovers on separate occasions in the search for a goal.

Corbett did have the scores level coming towards the break at 1-2 to 0-5 after 23 minutes before a free from Aodhan Ó Luasa put Cork ahead for the first time two minutes later.

Walsh put Kerry level at the break with a free however as one wondered would Kerry find the breeze to be to their advantage in the second period. Hartnett got the first score of a nervous start to the second-half on both sides in the 36th minute, but from here Kerry went on a scoring run that seemed to suck the energy and confidence out of their opponents somewhat.

Between the 37th and 44th minute Kerry hit six points without reply as five different scorers gave them a five point lead and the sense they would close the game out soon at 1-9 to 0-7.

The period after the three-quarter mark up to the closing minutes was all about Cork, however, as they came back within a score at 1-10 to 0-10 following two Ó Luasa frees and a Jack Kelliher point as the Canovee substitute had the game back in the balance.

As three minutes was announced for additional time there was a sense Kerry had just done enough to win for a 26th consecutive time at minor level, but Cork were not about to suffer another defeat just yet.

A patient and brave move saw Hartnett find Corbett with the time and space to power the ball into the Kerry net in the first additional minute and a level game. They say the worst possible time for someone to concede is just after scoring and it is a testament to the focus of Kerry that they got on with the resulting kick-out and their main dangerman Walsh decided to go quick with a free he was awarded for a foul on himself and picked out substitute Jack O'Connor who's fist wasn't the cleanest, but it got enough of the win to be able to go over the bar for the winning score of the game.

Once the initial joy at victory for the hosts had passed, a sense of sympathy at the circumstances was evident on both sides. It felt genuinely wrong that a Cork side that had put just as much effort as their opponents to win was left to lick their wounds for yet another year while the victors will have two further games at the very worst.

The match had bad echoes of 2015 at the same venue for Cork, but provided a fairer format can be introduced for 2019 the hope for next year will be the Rebels can start and end the decade as Munster Minor Champions.

It would no doubt make up for the hurt and agony caused by the format as much as Kerry themselves.

Cork: Diarmuid Doody (Buttevant); Dylan Connolly (Glanworth), David Buckley (Newcestown), Cian O'Donovan (Glanmire); Francis Cronin (Cullen), Diarmuid Phelan (Aghada), Eoin Nation (Nemo Rangers); Niall Hartnett (Douglas, 0-1), Joseph Harte (do); Hugh Murphy (Eire Óg), Dara O'Sullivan (St Finbarrs), Evan Cooke (Ballincollig); Sean McDonnell (Mallow), Aodhan Ó Luasa (Naomh Aban, 0-4, 4f), Conor Corbett (Clyda Rovers, 1-4) Subs: Michael O'Neill (Buttevant) for McDonnell, Jack Kelleher (Canovee, 0-1) for O'Sullivan, Gavin Carey (Buttevant) for Harte, Richard Lombard (Ballyhooly) for Murphy and Joseph O'Shea (Urhan) for O'Donovan

Kerry: Marc Kelliher; Conor Flannery, Kieran O'Donoghue, David Mangan; Colm Moriarty, Dan McCarthy (0-2), Dan Murphy; Darragh Rahilly (0-1), Darragh Lyne; Paul Walsh (1-3, 2f), Paul O'Shea, Killian Falvey; Patrick D'Arcy, Jack Kennelly (0-1), Ruaidhrí Ó Beaglaoich (0-2, 2f) Subs: Jack O'Connor (0-2) for Rahilly, David Dineen for Kennelly and Sean Quilter for D'Arcy

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary).