KIERAN McCARTHY REPORTS
THE Cork footballers were roasted under the sweltering summer sun on a day to forget for the Rebels in Killarney.
This was as bad as it gets for Cork who, after a bright opening quarter, were demolished by Kerry in this mismatch Munster SFC final at Fitzgerald Stadium.
Just after the first-half water break, Michael Hurley pointed to push Cork 1-6 to 0-4 ahead, but then the wheels fell off spectacularly and by the second water-break ruthless Kerry had surged 4-15 to 1-7 in front.
Kerry outscored Cork by 4-11 to 0-2 in that devastating period.
In the end the home side reclaimed their Munster title, and bragging rights over their closest rivals, with a 22-point annihilation of a shell-shocked Rebels.
It is, we believe, Cork footballers’ biggest-ever championship loss to Kerry.
This clash was billed as a Kerry revenge mission after last year’s shock Munster SFC semi-final loss to Cork, and they atoned for that slip-up in style.
Apart from Sean Meehan, who held Kerry danger man David Clifford scoreless from play, there are very few redeeming features of this Cork display.
Kerry take back their Munster SFC crown with a 4-22 to 1-9 demolition of Cork. That's a 22-point win, and David Clifford didn't even score from play.
— Kieran McCarthy (@KieranMcC_SS) July 25, 2021
‘Listen, it’s a setback. You lose by two or twenty, you lose and that's it. Someone said last week a gallant defeat is still a defeat,’ Cork boss Ronan McCarthy said afterwards, and there will need to be a serious post-mortem into this capitulation, even allowing for Kerry’s rising trajectory.
It had looked so promising for Cork in the opening quarter, reeling off scores from Michael Hurley (2) and Daniel Dineen to take an early 0-3 to 0-0 lead before Sean O’Shea (free) and Paul Geaney got the home side off the mark. Cork, though, hit back with points from Brian Hurley and Brian Hartnett to lead 0-5 to 0-2 after 12 minutes.
Paudie Clifford narrowed the gap before Brian Hurley struck for a Cork goal that started with a turnover on Kerry captain Paul Murphy near the Cork goal. The Rebels attacked fast, Ruairi Deane popping the ball to Ian Maguire who sent the ball in long to Brian Hurley. The Castlehaven man powered past Jason Foley before slipping the ball to the net to push Cork 1-5 to 0-3 clear after 16 minutes. Man-of-the-match Paudie Clifford pulled a point back for Kerry before the water break, but it was Cork, who had made all the early running, who led 1-5 to 0-4, and were value for that.
But the water break killed Cork’s momentum. The second quarter belonged to the home side who, after slipping 1-6 to 0-4 behind when Michael Hurley tagged on an early score, then outscored the Rebels by 1-8 to 0-1 to take control of this final.
Moran, Paudie Clifford, Tom O’Sullivan, Jack Barry and the superb Seanie O’Shea (2) nudged the home side in front for the first time by the 28th minute. Then after Luke Connolly replied for Cork, Kerry hit a goal from Brian Ó Beaglaoich as the corner back ran unchallenged through the Cork defence and found the bottom corner. Now Kerry led 1-10 to 1-7, and there was no let up whatsoever from here to the end as the Kingdom piled on the misery.
Kerry led 1-12 to 1-7 at half time and goals from Paul Geaney (2) and Sean O’Shea in the third quarter saw Cork slide 4-15 to 1-7 behind by the second-half water break. There was no let up in the final quarter either, with Ian Maguire and Brian Hurley scores little resistance to a free-flowing Kerry who tagged on scores at will.
Scorers - Kerry: S O’Shea 1-6 (3f); P Geaney 2-1; B Ó Beaglaoich 1-0; P Clifford 0-3; T O’Sullivan, J Barry, K Spillane 0-2 each; D Moran, D Clifford (f), S O’Brien, T Morley, M Breen, T Walsh 0-1 each. Cork: B Hurley 1-3 (1f); M Hurley 0-2; D Dineen (m), B Harnett, L Connolly, I Maguire 0-1 each.
Kerry: S Ryan; B Ó Beaglaoich, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; M Breen, P Murphy, G White; D Moran, D O’Connor; J Barry, S O’Shea, S O’Brien; D Clifford, P Geaney; D Clifford, P Clifford. Subs: K Spillane for D O’Connor (18, inj), A Spillane for J Barry (56), T Walsh for P Geaney (57), G Crowley for T O’Sullivan (65), T Morley for G White (66).
Cork: Mícheál Martin; Kevin O’Donovan, Sean Meehan, Kevin Flahive; Cian Kiely, Sean Powter, Mattie Taylor; Ian Maguire, Paul Walsh; Brian Hartnett, Ruairí Deane, John O’Rourke; Luke Connolly, Brian Hurley, Daniel Dineen. Subs: M White for Martin (ht), M Collins for L Connolly (41), C O'Callaghan for D Dineen (43), K O’Driscoll for M Hurley (46), K Crowley for K O’Donovan (52).