KIERAN McCARTHY REPORTS
KERRY escaped to victory in Páirc Uí Chaoimh despite a gutsy Cork challenge in an All-Ireland senior football Group 1 game that will be remembered for a debatable second-half penalty for the Kingdom.
Having trailed by four at half time, Cork had outscored Kerry by five points to one in the opening exchanges of the second period to close to within one, 0-10 to 0-9. The Rebels had momentum, and the crowd had their backs.
Then came the game-changer: Kerry were awarded a penalty after Sean Powter fouled Kerry forward Paul Geaney outside the square. But referee David Gough adjudged that Geaney had been denied a goalscoring opportunity inside the 21-yard line, and awarded Kerry a penalty, as per the rulebook.
There were confused heads inside the stadium as the majority didn't know about this rule, but Gough awarded the spot kick that David Clifford tucked away. Kerry jumped four points in front, and Cork were down to 14 as Powter was also black carded.
‘How it's a penalty is beyond me. If it's a goalscoring opportunity, Dan O'Mahony is straight behind him,’ irritated Cork boss John Cleary said afterwards.
‘Powter came out, the two of them came together and I think it’s a free at most. But a black card on top of that … If they're going to be giving penalties for that. Man inside, coming nearly practically along the end line. Very harsh decision.’
Whatever Bruno can do in Wembley, David Clifford can do in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. pic.twitter.com/0PJAPDmFWC
— Kieran McCarthy (@KieranMcC_SS) June 3, 2023
This was a major setback to Cork, who soon slipped five behind, but the Rebels rallied, roared on by their home support that appreciated the effort they saw.
While Cork faded in the final quarter of last year’s Munster SFC semi-final between the two, they didn’t here. Instead, it was All-Ireland champions Kerry looking edgy as Cork inched closer. Points from subs Eoghan McSweeney and Steven Sherlock sandwiched a Brian Hurley free, as Cork closed to within two, 1-12 to 0-13, with five minutes left. But Cork will rue a litany of poor wides, including Hurley (2) and Sherlock missing three frees in a row when there was the opportunity to add to Kerry nerves.
The difference is Kerry have better score-getters, principally David Clifford who hit back within a score to push his side three in front. There was still time for Sherlock and McSweeney to sandwich a score from Tom O’Sullivan, as Kerry just held out for a two-point win that still leaves a lot of question marks hanging over them.
For Cork, to feel like this is a missed opportunity is a sign of progress, and with a group win against Louth already behind them, it leaves them in a strong position in the group ahead of their final game against Mayo.
SCORERS - CORK: B Hurley 0-6 (5f, 1 m); S Powter, S Sherlock, E McSweeney 0-2 each; C Óg Jones, B O’Driscoll, K O’Hanlon 0-1 each. KERRY: D Clifford 1-5 (1-0 pen, 1f); S O’Shea 0-5 (2f); P Clifford 0-2; A Spillane, T O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
CORK: MA Martin; M Shanley, R Maguire, K O’Donovan; L Fahy, D O’Mahony, M Taylor; C O’Callaghan, I Maguire; B O’Driscoll, R Deane, K O’Hanlon; S Powter, B Hurley, C Óg Jones. SUBS: S Sherlock for Jones (47), E McSweeney for O’Hanlon (58), J O’Rourke for Deane (65), B Murphy for Hurley (70), T Clancy for R Maguire (70).
KERRY: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; P Murphy, T Morley, G White; D O’Connor, J Barry; D Moynihan, S O’Shea, A Spillane; P Clifford, D Clifford, P Geaney. SUBS: R Murphy for A Spillane (ht), S O’Brien for Moynihan (61), T Brosnan for P Geaney (62), BD O’Sullivan for Barry (65), M Burns for P Clifford (70).
REFEREE: D Gough (Meath).