Tuesday 24 October 2017

Kerry weather Rebel storm

High Fliers Kingdom Reign in Munster

Anthony Maher, Kerry, fields the ball ahead of Alan O’Connor, Cork during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final Replay (Brendan Moran / Sportsfile)
Anthony Maher, Kerry, fields the ball ahead of Alan O’Connor, Cork during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final Replay (Brendan Moran / Sportsfile)


Cork's hopes of celebrating a first win over Kerry in Killarney for 20 years faded during the second half of last night's Munster final replay, played in constant rain and on difficult conditions underfoot. Kerry won with five points to spare, 1-11 to 1-6, leaving Cork to face Kildare in the final round of the qualifiers and rueing the opportunity they blew in the drawn match.

Kerry's tactic of raining high balls in on Kieran Donaghy was abandoned ten minutes into the second half after the strategy yielded little return. Instead, they sent on Colm Cooper in Donaghy's place and, in the 49th minute, his quick free led to a goal for Paul Geaney. A lead of 1-9 to 1-6 in the conditions was substantial - and Kerry needed the lift.

When James O'Donoghue scored his first point in the 62nd minute to move them five clear the roar that went up sounded like confirmation of Kerry's victory, with Cork visibly weakening. So it proved, O'Donoghue's peach of a score the final one of the night.

There was little to separate them in the opening half, in which Bryan Sheehan produced a flawless kicking performance, scoring five points from frees to help Kerry lead 0-8 to 1-4. Cork fell three points adrift before they nailed the game's opening goal in the 32nd minute through Paul Kerrigan.

It was Kerry's seventh goal to concede in this year's championship. A minute later Cork almost had another when Stephen Cronin's dipping shot was pushed on to a post by Brendan Kealy, before Kerry managed to the get ball clear. A beautiful point from Colm O'Neill had the teams level early in the second half - Cork in no mood to roll over, but Kerry finished stronger.

Cork had to start without their full-back Eoin Cadogan, but Jamie O'Sullivan, his replacement, stuck tightly to Donaghy. Anthony Maher returned to restore last year's midfield partnership with David Moran. Aidan O'Mahony and Paul Murphy were also recalled to the Kerry defence. Their performance leaves plenty room for improvement but they'll be happy to have made the quarter-finals.

The day took its toll on managers with two stepping down as a result of qualifier defeats. Peter Creedon made his decision after Tipperary surrendered 0-7, 0-19 to Tyrone at Thurles. Tipperary looked in a promising position at half-time when trailing by a point after facing the breeze, but they were overpowered in the second half - scoring just once, a free from Kevin O'Halloran four minutes from the end.

Creedon took up the post when John Evans quit in March, 2012, and had led Tipp to the final 12 in the championship in two of those years. This season has seen them fall short of expectations.

Creedon was quickly followed by Brian McIver, whose Derry side were defeated at a windy and wet Salthill, 1-11 to 0-8, by Galway. The home side led 0-8 to 0-5 at half-time.

"I have given my life in terms of the GAA," said McIver. "I had to go into a bunch of players there and thank them for all of their work."

He said he was furious over a decision not to award Derry a penalty just before the decisive goal from Galway's Danny Cummins, saying: "I can't handle refereeing decisions like that any longer. I have had to step down."

Derry shaved two points off Galway's interval lead early in the second half but Galway rallied and a Cummins goal seven minutes from the end made it safe. The game marked a return to action for Shane Walsh, Galway's talented attacking player who was involved in a car accident earlier in the summer.

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