Kerry 2-16 Cork 0-6
A dominant performance from Kerry meant that the last EirGrid Munster U21FC was very one-sided at Páirc Uí Rinn tonight.
In front of 3,861, Jack O’Connor’s side never trailed at any stage and had four unanswered points on the board inside seven minutes. While Cork did respond with three in a row to suggest that the outcome might be in question, Kerry’s response was emphatic as they would have 1-10 on the before Cork’s third point.
The Kingdom had outstanding performers all over the field. Seán O’Shea and Killian Spillane scored six and five points respectively while Conor Geaney came off the bench to score 1-2 in the second half and Andrew Barry excelled at midfield with Brian Ó Beaglaioch and Tom O’Sullivan driving on to good effect from the half-back line.
Cork, who scored just one point from play, will reflect on how things might have been different if Michael Hurley’s early goal effort had gone in rather than hitting the post, but overall there could be no denying Kerry’s superiority.
Spillane was very lively early on and though Seán O’Donoghue and Brian Coakley got Cork back into it after Kerry’s good start, Ó Beaglaioch set up Matthew O’Sullivan for a 19th-minute goal for the visitors.
They were six clear at half-time after Spillane and O’Shea pointed, and four in a row on the resumption, from Tom O’Sullivan, O’Shea and Spillane (two) put the game beyond the hosts. Gary Murphy did open Cork’s second-half account in the 38th minute, but a comeback was never going to materialise against a Kerry side featuring 14 starters who had won All-Ireland minor medals across the past three years and for whom Barry was dominating at midfield.
Geaney and Matthew O’Sullivan responded to that and Geaney would have had a goal but for a fine Ross Donovan save. At the other end, Cork sub Jerry O’Riordan looked like he had netted with 11 minutes left but, illustrating the excellence of his all-round performance, Ó Beaglaioch was there to keep it off the line.
After O’Shea put Kerry 14 points ahead, Geaney capped the win with a lovely finish from Spillane’s beautifully lofted pass. Cork did have late Stephen Sherlock frees, but it was Kerry’s night and the Connacht champions, Galway or Sligo, will find them to be stiff opponents.
Scorers – Kerry: S O’Shea 0-6 (3fs, 1 ‘45’), K Spillane 0-5 (2fs), C Geaney 1-2 (0-1f), M O’Sullivan 1-1, C Bambury, T O’Sullivan 0-1 each. Cork: B Coakley (1f), S Sherlock (2fs) 0-2 each, Gary Murphy, Seán O’Donoghue 0-1f each.
KERRY – S Ryan; J Foley, Tom (Leo) O’Sullivan, B Sugrue; B Ó Beaglaíoch, T O’Sullivan, G White; A Barry, B Ó Seanacháin; B Barrett, S O’Shea, M Flaherty; K Spillane, M O’Sullivan, C Bambury. Subs: J Morgan for Sugrue (16, injured), C Geaney for Bambury (h-t), M Burns for Barrett (45), B O’Sullivan for Flaherty (46), C Coffey for Tom O’Sullivan (50, black card), J Kiely for Matthew O’Sullivan (52).
CORK – R Donovan; S Daly, J Mullins, S Wilson; J O’Riordan, A Browne, C Kiely; E Lavers, S O’Donoghue; G Murphy, S Powter, L O’Donovan; B Coakley , M Dineen, M Hurley. Subs: D Meaney for Dineen (22), S Sherlock for Lavers (h-t), M Buckley for Murphy, K O’Donovan for Browne (both 42), S O’Donovan for Coakley (46), S O’Leary for Daly (57).
Ref – A Kissane (Waterford).