Rampant young Kerry brush Cork aside at their ease
Kerry 3-18 Cork 2-4
Even during the halcyon days of the Mick O’Dwyer era, Kerry never managed to hand out a drubbing like this to Cork.
Granted, they beat them in eight successive Munster finals between 1975 and 1982, but their biggest margin of victory was 15 points (3-15 to 0-9) in 1977.
On Saturday night in the first Munster final played in the revamped Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Kerry won by 17 - their biggest winning margin over the Rebels for 80 years.
The concern, not just for Cork but for the future of the Munster Championship, is that the margin should have been a lot more The winners could have doubled their goal tally - Seán O’Shea smashed the ball off the crossbar; Cork’s rookie goalkeeper Mark White blocked a goalbound shot from Peter Crowley and Kerry fluffed another chance in injury-time.
Kerry also hit seven wides and dropped eight shots short which illustrates just how dominant they were despite conceding two goals to Jamie O’Sullivan and Mark Collins in the opening nine minutes.
Indeed, when Cork’s Luke Connolly drove over a marvellous point to give his side a 2-1 to 1-2 lead after ten minutes there were genuine reasons for believing that the Rebels had a chance of denying the visitors a sixth provincial title on the spin.
But by the time Cork scored again - in the 45th minute of the second half - Kerry had 2-12 on the scoreboard and were well on their way to winning their 80th provincial crown.
“They have real quality all over the field. We knew we would have to play well. We didn’t do that which was most disappointing acknowledged Cork boss Ronan McCarthy.
Performance-wise Gavin White was the most impressive of the six Kerry players making their debuts in a Munster decider,though it was two of their seasoned campaigners who did the Rebels most damage. Paul Geaney bagged a match winning tally of 2-5 from play while David Moran was superb in midfield.
Much of Cork’s woes stemmed from their inability to secure primary possession from Mark White’s kickouts in the first half.
Kerry pressed up on his restarts so White had little option but to go long, but his team-mates only secured nine of his 16 first half kickouts which placed an intolerable burden on their defence.
Ironically, on one of the few occasions White did get a short kick away it resulted in a black card for Kerry’s Stephen O’Brien, who scored their first goal after five minutes.
He pulled down substitute James Loughrey, the recipient of the short pass. Cork had Sam Ryan (23m) and their best player Ruairi Deane (32m) black-carded as well.
Despite the ease of the win, Éamonn Fitzmaurice has plenty of areas to work on before Kerry’s first game in the Super 8s against Galway in Croke Park on the weekend of July 14/15.
The right flank of their defence was badly exposed for Cork’s two early goals while Galway’s defensive system will prove much, much harder to crack open. But for the moment he was content to have secured provincial silverware.
“Delighted we are on the straight route into the Super 8s,” said Fitzmaurice.
SCORERS - Kerry: P Geaney 2-5; S O’Shea 0-4 (2 ‘45’, 1f), S O’Brien 1-0, J O’Donoghue 0-3 (1f), P Murphy, D Clifford 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 Kelleher 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 (BC, 26), D O’Sullivan for Burns (ht), M Griffin for Foley (54), K Donaghy for Clifford (56), BJ Keane for O’Donoghue (59), 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 (BC, 21), P Kerrigan for Deane (BC, 35), P Kelleher for O’Rourke (ht), B Hurley for K O’Driscoll (ht), B O’Driscoll for Cronin (58), C O’Neill for Walsh (59).
Referee: C Branagan (Down).