Kerry show spirit to stay with strong Cork

John Kerins Cup Round 1: Kerry 3-12 Cork 1-19

Seán O’Brien, Kerry and Daniel O’Mahony, Cork pictured in action during the John Kerins Cup
game inAustin Stack Park on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus
Seán O’Brien, Kerry and Daniel O’Mahony, Cork pictured in action during the John Kerins Cup game inAustin Stack Park on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus

Damian Stack, Austin Stack Park

Were Cork the better team here? They were and they really should have been a little more comfortable in the end, but that's sort of besides the point. This a development competition. It's not about winning per se. It's about developing players, developing a squad and a team and a style of play.

For John Sugure and his backroom team there were plenty of positives to draw from the performance. Not in the round - no Kerry manager will enjoy seeing his team lose out to the Rebel county, not for the second week in-a-row - certain aspects, though, he will have found encouraging.

The full-back line performed really rather well all things considered with Alan Dineen standing out at full-back alongside the increasingly impressive Seán Óg Moran and James McCarthy who more than held his own on last year's minor sensation, Conor Corbett.

There were players to impress on every line - Seán O'Connell impressive at both half-back and centre-field - but the single most pleasing aspect of the game from a Kerry point of view will have to have been their fighting spirit.

Kerry just never, ever gave up. Every time Cork threatened to pull away, the Kingdom were able to jimmy up something a little bit special. After seventeen minutes Cork were three clear - 0-1 to 0-4 - and beginning to stretch their legs, albeit that they were a little profligate in front of the sticks.

A point from Paul Walsh, much more comfortable operating further from goal than the previous weekend, on eighteen minutes brought it back to a two point game and then two-minutes later the flame-haired Brosna youngster assisted Darragh Rahilly for the game's opening goal. Against the run of play, Kerry had the lead.

Cork's response to that was, it has to be said, hugely impressive reeling off five points unanswered (the first two from the impressive Conor Russell) before Kerry got one back through Walsh from a placed ball on the half hour mark - 1-3 to 0-10 at the break following one final Russell point from a free.

Into the second half and Cork remained the more impressive looking side, even if they were hampered by a couple of very costly injuries. Having lost centre-back Diarmud Phelan to injury in the first half they were soon down their midfielder Daniel O'Connell and the impressive Russell.

That, coupled with their continuing profligacy, allowed Kerry to stay in touch. After ten minutes of the second half there was just two points in it - 1-6 to 0-11 - and that was whittled down to just a single point by the forty sixth minute following a Walsh free - 1-9 to 0-13.

Crucially, however, Cork were always able to find a response. It was back out to a three point game by the fifty second minute - 1-10 to 0-16 - before Kerry again found something special, this time courtesy of second half sub Killian Falvey.

The Annascaul man went on a brilliant run and when it looked like he might have been better off tapping over he had other ideas, burying it low and hard and bulging the side netting to the keeper's right. Game on?

Again not quite. Cork responding brilliantly out-scoring Kerry 1-3 to 0-1 over the next seven minutes to re-establish a five point lead, 2-11 to 1-19 with Darragh Hayes palming home the goal following a pass across the face of goal by the increasingly influential Conor Corbett.

Kerry did have one last hurrah with Brian Lonergan - last week's keeper and this week an outfield sensation - fielding a ball in the box and being fouled following a pass by Adam Curran. Walsh stepped up and slammed home the penalty, 3-11 to 1-19.

Falvey followed up with a point from play to make it a one point game with the game's last action. A strong finish on a day when they were second best will give this Kerry team confidence that should they meet Cork again later in the season (as is likely) they've got what it takes to compete.

Kerry: Marc Kelliher (Glenflesk), Seán Óg Moran (Dingle), Alan Dineen (Rathmore), James McCarthy (Kenmare Shamrocks), Adan Curran (Austin Stacks), Seán O'Connell (Cordal), Seán O'Brien (Beaufort), Griffin Wharton (Kenmare Shamrocks), Darragh Rahilly (1-1) (Rathmore), Danny Hickey (Castleisland Desmonds), Seán Keane (Listowel Emmets), Michael O'Gara (Austin Stacks), Dylan Geaney (0-4, 1f) (Dingle), Paul Walsh (1-5, 1-0 pen, 3f) (Brosna), Conor Hayes (0-1) (Kerins O'Rahillys) Subs: Killian Falvey (1-1) (Annascaul) for S Keane, 37, Brendan O'Neill (Ballydonoghue) for D Hickey, 37, David Mangan (Laune Rangers) for J McCarthy, 45, Brian Lonergan (Ballymacelligott) for M O'Gara, 45

Cork: Josh O'Keeffe (Newmarket), Bill Curtin (Kilshannig), Daniel'O'Mahony (Knocknagree), Conor Smith (Aghabullogue), James O'Mullane (0-1) (Kilmurry), Diarmuid Phelan (Aghada), Seán Desmond (Clondrohid), Jack Lawton (Argideen Rangers), Daniel O'Connell (0-1) (Kanturk), Jack Murphy (Éire Óg), Aodhán Ó Lusa (0-2) (Naomh Aban), Blake Murphy (0-2, 1f) (St Vincents), Conor Corbett (Clyda Rovers), Fionn Herlihy (0-3) (Dohenys), Conor Russell (0-5, 3f) (Douglas) Subs: Ciaran O'Sullivan (0-1) (Urhan) for D Phelan (inj), 22, Éanna O'Hanlon (0-2f) (Kilshannig) for D O'Connell (inj), 31, Darragh Hayes (1-2, 1f) (Carbery Rangers) for C Russell (inj), 35, Eoin Lehane (Canovee) for C Smith, 45, Darragh Cashman (Millstreet) for S Desmond, 54

Referee: Chris Maguire (Clare)

The game in 60 seconds

Main man

For Kerry Alan Dineen was solid at full-back. Darragh Rahilly scored 1-1 and did well at midfield. Paul Walsh impressed at half-forward, while Dylan Geaney really came into it, but it probably has to be a Cork man and it's between Jack Murphy and Conor Russell for us and we're just going to plump for Russell.

Key moment

How Cork rattled off five on the bounce in response to Kerry's first goal with the very impressive Murphy assisting the first three of those.

Talking point

Cork looked a bit ahead of Kerry phsyically, but it's still early season and nobody would want to read too much into this. Interestingly there seemed to be a more vociferous Cork crowd in attenance than a Kerry one.