Kerry edge past Cork to make it six in a row of Munster Junior football titles
Munster JFC Final: Kerry 1-14 Cork 0-13
Kerry aim to use their Munster Junior Football Championship triumph as a platform to retaining All Ireland honours. Enroute to a possible sixth consecutive national final, Kerry must make a trip to Scotland for an All-Ireland semi-final after the latter overcame a fancied Warwickshire in the all Britain Final last weekend.
Kingdom manager Jimmy Keane is an experienced campaigner, expressing the view that nothing comes easy and Kerry are taking it one game at a time in search of their five in a row of All Ireland titles.
"That semi-final is a tricky tie, I was involved two years ago where we faced Lancashire and the teams were level at half time. The British teams are good footballers, they have made life tough for us, if one is not tuned in mentally properly, they could turn over a side pretty quick," he said.
The reality is that Kerry represent the acid test for the remaining pretenders outright honours with Scotland, Meath and Galway in the mix. Understandably Keane was delighted on adding a Munster title, especially given a new look team paraded against Cork.
"With all due respects to the actual team that played, we had another team at home, because of injury, many of those would be pushing hard for starting places. It just shows the depth of talent that's in Kerry, they love wearing the Kerry jersey and enjoy playing football," said the Brosna man.
"It's hard to believe that we 've won six Munster titles in a row, we weren't counting for nobody has been involved in all six triumphs. There was some pressure on given the earlier success of the minor and senior teams at provincial level, it augurs well for the future of Kerry football, a number of these Junior players will step up, we're facilitating them to reach the next level," said Keane.
Indeed Kerry held a number of exceptional performers at Pairc Uí Rinn, former All Ireland minor John Mark Foley helped gain a vice grip around the midfield that laid the platform for dominance with fellow All Ireland minor medallists Michael Foley and Stephen O'Sullivan effective on this occasion.
O'Sullivan delivered a match defining goal close to half time, a massive moment for Kerry drove on to turn the screw on the Rebel hopefuls as acknowledged by Keane.
"It was a crucial goal, in fairness to Cork, they did very well in the opening half, packing defence and not too many opportunities for us. We knew if we could get Stephen on the ball, he could deliver, he is a goal poacher, half a chance and he will take it," he said.
Early on, Cork were full of football invention, converting every chance that came their way with no wide recorded. Kerry lost midfielder Nathan Breen to a black card with only four minutes elapsed yet replacement Caolim Teahan saw plenty of the ball.
It was clear that Cork were prepared for a gutsy performance, Kevin Cremin, John Mullins and the O'Connor brothers effective as was the immense contribution of Gary Murphy, the Castletownbere pointed a pair with Anthony O'Connor also on target.
And though Kerry responded to force parity at 0-4 apiece, Cork weren't found wanting, Murphy, Shane Aherne and the O'Connors on target to confirm their dominance.
But as the game aged, Kerry offered more belief and conviction, Chris Farley forced a turnover, Templenoe's O'Sullivan weaved past despairing tackles to billow the Cork net. And Kerry might well had added a second green flag, Cork 'keeper Chris Kelly denying Brandon Barrett with his leg before Michael Foley and Eoin O'Shea exchanged points for Cork hold a 0-9 to 1-5 interval advantage.
Kerry's game really took flight on the restart, the control of Padraig O'Connor, Jack Brosnan and Michael Foley was absolute in defence, Kilgarvan's John Mark Foley pulled the strings brilliantly at midfield .
And in attack, O'Sullivan, Dan Daly and Barry O'Dwyer stretched the Cork rearguard with purposeful and assured play to shoot a run of points for a clear 1-12 to 0-9 advantage at the three quarter mark. Cork were struggling in attack with Kerry keeping a tight rein on dangerman Murphy, who wasn't afforded the same space or time in possession as in the opening spell.
Cork waited to the 54th min to open their second half account courtesy of a Murphy pointed free. Still Kerry held a stranglehold on the proceedings, wing-back Jack Brosnan stormed forward to point a beauty with Daly adding pointed frees. Kerry custodian Eoghan O'Brien got in on the act to slot over a '45 with O'Sullivan completing the Kerry tally to allow team captain Philip O'Connor lift the silverware.
KERRY: E O'Brien 0-1 ('45') (Churchill); C Ó Murchú (Gaeltacht), Padraig O'Connor (Killarney), PJ O'Sullivan (Dromid Pearses); J Brosnan 0-1 (Glenbeigh/Glencar), M Breen (Beaufort), M Foley 0-1 (Ballydonoughue); JM Foley (Kilgarvan), N Breen (Beaufort); Phillip O'Conno (Cordal), C Farley (Dromid Pearses), B Barrett (Ardfert); S O'Sullivan 1-3 (Templenoe), D Daly 0-4 (3f) (St. Marys, Cahirciveen), B O'Dwyer 0-3 (Waterville). Subs: C Teehan 0-1 (Glenbeigh/Glencar) for N Breen (bc, 5), T Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds) for B Barrett (53), J Crean (Annascaul) for C Farley (57), J Spillane (Templenoe) for B O'Dwyer (62).
CORK: C Kelly (Éire Óg); P Clancy (Fermoy), P Murphy (Bandon), G McCarthy (St Vincent's); K Cremin (Boherbue), J Mullins (Éire Óg), G O'Callaghan (Gabriel Rangers); BT O'Sullivan (Garnish), P Walsh (Kanturk); F O'Connor 0-2 (Knocknagree), A O'Connor 0-4 (3f) (do), S Aherne (Fermoy); G Murphy 0-4 (2f) (Castletownbere), S Hickey 0-2 (Rockchapel), E O'Shea 0-1 (Éire Óg). Subs: L Wall (Kilmurry) for G O'Callaghan (20), ST O'Sullivan (Garnish) for S Aherne (40),T Corkery (Cill na Martra) for BT O'Sullivan (40), E O'Callaghan (Rockchapel) for P Walsh (48), E Goggin (Gabriel Rangers) for E O'Shea (55), G Kelleher (St Vincent's) for F O'Connor (58).
Referee: D O'Callaghan (Limerick)