Kiely point seals Rebel advance
Cork 0-14 Kerry 2-7
SubSTITUTE Sean Kiely scored an injury-time point as Cork began their quest for a third successive Munster U-21 FC title with a narrow win over Kerry at Pairc Ui Rinn.
On top for most of the game, Cork found themselves pegged back by Kerry as the second half wore on, and the sides were level as the 60-minute mark passed before Kiely rounded off a good move involving Luke Connolly, Damien Cahalane and Jamie Wall before firing over the winner.
Cork almost got a massive boost inside a minute as Brian Hurley had a goal chance only to be denied by Shane Murphy, but with Hurley and fellow inside-forward Dan Mac Eoin finding their range, the home side soon moved into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after Conor Cox had put Kerry ahead with a free.
Despite the early advantage, though, Cork were anxious in possession at times as chances were wasted, and Connolly should really have had a goal, only for Murphy to again save well.
Cahalane was excellent at centre-back while Ian Maguire was showing up well in midfield, but Cork's full-back line looked susceptible to danger and in the 15th minute Kerry drew level when Gavin O'Grady took a pass from Mark Reen and turned Alan Cronin before slotting past David Hanrahan.
Reen himself almost added another goal straight away, Hanrahan denying him, but while Mac Eoin put Cork back in front with a free, Shane O'Callaghan grabbed a second goal for Kerry when he was allowed to waltz through in the 23rd minute.
The defensive lapses notwithstanding, Cork still had greater attacking capabilities and Mac Eoin tested Murphy with a stinging effort, while Hurley put the rebound over when it was easier to find the net.
Shortly before half-time Mac Eoin again went for goal, Murphy tipping over, but as the sides turned around Cork still looked like they had more in them and that feeling manifested itself in early points from Mac Eoin and O'Rourke as they pushed further clear.
After Mac Eoin sent over a booming effort with his weaker right, things got even worse for Kerry as Gavin O'Grady wasted a scoreable free and then Cox looked to have got their first point from play only for referee Derek O'Mahony to overrule his umpire.
Cox did eventually end that drought in the 44th minute, but not before Mac Eoin got his seventh point of the match. Cox left two in it, 0-11 to 2-3, with a quarter of the game remaining.
The Rebels were now stagnating in attack, and the introduction of Kieran Murphy into midfield, where James Walsh was excelling, gave Kerry further impetus. They ate into the lead through Cox points and though Cork's Alan Cronin gave them some breathing space, Walsh's huge point made it a one-point game with three minutes left.
Extra-time loomed when O'Grady scored a fine point after he held possession well despite a number of Cork challengers, and Cox attempted to give the visitors an unlikely win with a speculative effort. Ultimately, though, Kiely had the final say.
Scorers – Cork: D Mac Eoin 0-7 (0-3f), B Hurley 0-4, J O'Rourke, A Cronin, S Kiely 0-1 each. Kerry: C Cox 0-5 (0-2f), G O'Grady 1-1, S O'Callaghan 1-0, J Walsh 0-1.
CORK – D Hanrahan; B O'Driscoll, C Dorman, A Cronin; TJ Brosnan, D Cahalane, J Wall; T Clancy, I Maguire; A Cadogan, M Sugrue, J O'Rourke; D Mac Eoin, B Hurley, L Connolly. Subs: C Vaughan for Sugrue (39), S Kiely for Maguire (53), K Hallissey for Cadogan (55),
KERRY – S Murphy; F McNamara, P Kilkenny, D Culhane; P Ó Sé, T Morley, M Mangan; J Walsh, S Keane; J Hickson, M Reen, S O'Callaghan; G O'Grady, C Cox, C Brady. Subs: K Murphy for Brady (42), C Keane for Reen (52), J Sheehy for Hickson (57).
Ref – D O'Mahony (Tipperary).