Sunday 22 July 2018

Kerry score their biggest Championship win over Cork since 1938 to land Munster title in style

Kerry 3-18 Cork 2-4

Paul Geaney of Kerry celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Cork and Kerry at Páirc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Paul Geaney of Kerry celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Cork and Kerry at Páirc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

When Luke Connolly landed a point for Cork from an awkward angle out near the South Stand sideline in Pairc Ui Chaoimh after 10 minutes of this Munster football final, Cork had the appearance of a resurgent side enjoying their championship return to the revamped stadium before a large sun-drenched crowd.

Connolly's kick gave the home side a 2-1 to 1-2 lead and posed all manner of doubt in a Kerry defence that had allowed Ruairi Deane so much room to engineer two almost similar goals in that opening period for Jamie O'Sullivan and Mark Collins, as the Bantry Blues man delivered inviting handpasses across the Kerry goalmouth for his colleagues to punch home.

But Cork didn't score again for the remainder of the half - 28 minutes - and indeed it was 10 minutes of the second half when Connolly landed a free as Kerry completely dominated, hitting an unanswered nine points to lay the foundations for a sixth successive Munster title, each under the management of Eamonn Fitzmaurice who has yet to lose a provincial match.

It was an impressive recovery room Kerry who had six players involved in a provincial final for the first time.

But even they will feel there is room for improvement after seven wides and eight shots dropped short on an evening when they may have been more clinical.

They forced mistakes from Cork all evening and had the home side resorting to hopeful balls into the full-forward line from an early stage that were easily dealt with by the Kerry defence.

O'Sullivan scored the first goal after only two minutes after Deane had fielded Sean White's delivery and while Kerry responded well with a scintillating goal from Stephen O'Brien who took advantage of David Moran's mark to cut through the middle.

But if they were rocked by Collins goal, Cork's second, and Connolly's follow-up point they didn't show it, kicking on with their much vaunted full-forward line in full flow, assisted by the flying Paul Murphy from a much deeper position.

O'Brien was black-carded in the 26th minute - by then championship debutant Sam Ryan had suffered the same fate for dragging down David Clifford - but the momentum was all with Kerry.

They got to the break 1-11 to 2-1 clear and while they took their foot off the floor for much of the second half their defence held tight against feeble opposition.

The loss of Deane to a black card for taking down Jason Foley near the end of the half robbed Cork of one of their most obvious threats.

Paul Geaney was top scorer with 2-5 while David Moran dominated midfield and Gavin White continued his impressive club form with Dr Crokes with some penetrating runs from half-back.

Kerry got impact off the bench through Kevin McCarthy, Darran O'Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy who took ball down with ease when he came on for Clifford for the last quarter.

It was a forgettable evening for Cork before a 27,764 crowd, illustrating further just how far they have fallen behind their age-old rivals in what was their second biggest defeat to them.

They scored just two points from play - three in all - in the 67 minutes of action that followed that 10th minute Connolly point. By any standards that simply isn't good enough.

It was Kerry's biggest Championship win over Cork since 1938.

Scorers - Kerry: P Geaney 2-5, S O'Shea 0-4 (2 45s, 1 f), S O'Brien 1-0, J O'Donoghue 0-3 (1f), D Clifford, P Murphy 0-2 each, G White, BJ Keane 0-1 each.

Cork: M Collins 1-1, J O'Sullivan 1-0, L Connolly 0-2 (1f), P Kelliher 0-1.

Kerry: S Murphy; J Foley, P Crowley, B O Beaglaoich; P Murphy, T Morley, G White; D Moran, J Barry; M Burns, S O'Shea, S O'Brien; D Clifford, P Geaney, J O'Donoghue. Subs: K McCarthy for O'Brien b-c (26), D O'Sullivan for Burns (h-t), M Griffin for Foley (53), K Donaghy for Clifford (55), K Young for Morley (64)

Cork: M White; K Crowley, J O'Sullivan, S Ryan; S Cronin, K Flahive, T Clancy; A Walsh, I Maguire; K O'Driscoll, S White, R Deane; J O'Rourke, M Collins, L Connolly. Subs: J Loughrey for Ryan b-c (21), P Kerrigan for Deane b-c (35), P Kelliher for O'Rourke (h-t), B Hurley for O'Driscoll (h-t), B O'Driscoll for Cronin (57), C O'Neill for Walsh (58),

Referee: C Branagan (Down)

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