BY KIERAN McCARTHY
ALL-IRELAND ladies’ football champions Cork surrendered their Munster crown after a 2-13 to 2-4 loss against Kerry in Mallow on Saturday evening.
Cork can have no complaints about this defeat as they were surprisingly second best for the majority of the contest. Player of the match Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh inspired this fantastic Kerry win, as she racked up 1-5, including one of two second-half goals..
Kerry, with the wind behind them in the first half, led 0-10 to 2-2 at the break, but the concession of the second Cork goal would have hurt as it came during a spell where the Kingdom ladies were on top.
After three points put Kerry into an early lead, Cork hit back with 1-2 – an unfortunate own goal for a Kerry back, but Orla Finn was waiting to finish to an empty net from Ashling Hutchings’ pass.
Then Kerry took over with six points in a row as they dominated. Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh (2), Patrice Dennehy, Sarah Houlihan, Bernie Breen and Megan O’Connell were all on target to send them into a 0-9 to 1-2 lead.
Then came Annie Walsh’s goal for Cork four minutes before the break, and while Ni Mhuircheartaigh responded with a Kerry point, they deserved more than just a two-point lead at half time.
The second half, like the first, saw Kerry on top with Megan O’Connell finishing to the net six minutes in, and by the time Ni Mhuircheartaigh scored the Kingdom’s second goal midway through the half, the writing was on the wall for Eamonn Ryan’s below-par Rebelettes.
Cork managed two second half points, from Geraldine O’Flynn and Valerie Mulcahy, and that was never going to be enough against a committed Kerry side that fully deserved this win – their second Munster crown in three seasons.
Cork now face the qualifiers’ route as they bid to get their bid for a tenth All-Ireland in 11 seasons back on track.
See Thursday's Southern Star for reaction from both camps
Cork: Annie Walsh 1-0, Orla Finn, Emma Farmer, Geraldine O’Flynn, Valerie Mulcahy (f) 0-1 each.
Kerry: Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh 1-5, Sarah Houlihan 0-5 (2f), Megan O’Connell 1-1, Patrice Dennehy, Bernie Breen 0-1 each.