‘We created six or seven goal chances during the game – but we just couldn’t execute them’

April 30th, 2023 6:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Cork's Paddy O'Driscoll gets in his kick against Kerry during the Eirgrid Munster U20 Football Championship Final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.(Photo: George Hatchell)

Share this article

CORK 1-6

KERRY 2-12


WHEN Bobbie O’Dwyer emerged from the quietness of the losing dressing-room on Monday night, the Cork boss was already trying to evaluate where it had all gone wrong.

This will need a deep-dive after a painful experience for his young guns against the old enemy in the Munster U20 football final.

The concession of 2-1 inside the opening 200 seconds left Cork chasing the game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but they never got closer than five points throughout a scrappy, mediocre contest that failed to spark.

It was a frustrating Cork performance. A dreadful start. Missed chances, which fed the feeling that the home side was never going to reel Kerry in. 

‘When you concede two goals early on it puts you on the back foot,’ O’Dwyer agreed. 

‘This isn’t what we had planned, it’s not what the young lads set out to do and after those two early goals we were always chasing the game, while at the other side of the pitch we didn’t take our chances. 

‘We created six or seven goal chances during the game – but we just couldn’t execute them.’

While Cork didn’t take their chances, Kerry did. Two goals inside the first three minutes and 20 seconds left the Rebels reeling. This provincial final had barely stretched its legs, yet it already felt like the 3,205 fans had witnessed its pivotal scores. 

Twenty-four seconds in, Kerry forward Cian McMahon goaled after Jack Clifford scythed through the Cork rearguard. Kerry corner forward Aaron O’Shea quickly added a point before midfielder Cillian Burke, despite hitting the ground, pounced for their second goal from close range. Stunned Cork trailed 2-1 to 0-0.

Bobbie O’Dwyer concedes that Cork were opened up too easily at the start, but then he points out that they got to grips with Kerry and started to create their own chances. The difference was Cork missed theirs. Corner back Darragh Murphy drilled one wide in between Kerry’s two goals, while Paddy O’Driscoll, in the tenth minute, was off target with his effort after being sent through by Liam O’Connell. It’s a lesson for these young Cork players: you have to take your chances against quality opposition.

‘The game was there. The scoring opportunities were there. Unfortunately it didn’t work for us on the day,’ O’Dwyer said. 

‘Even playing as we were, we had four or five goal chances in the first half and then Kerry just shut up shop in the second half and held us out. Still we had opportunities and we didn’t execute. Obviously when you come up against better teams they will put pressure on you to make mistakes.’

The stats won’t make easy reading for Cork. They kicked 1-6 in total, with the goal scant consolation in injury-time. Only one point from play in the first half. Only three points from play in total. Only one Cork starter scored from play (Paddy O’Driscoll). There were 31 minutes between Paddy O’Driscoll’s fourth-minute point from play and half-time sub Niall Kelly’s 35th-minute point from play. Newcestown clubman Kelly scored all of Cork’s 1-2 in the second half. The Cork attack didn’t carry a threat, and the result was inevitable from a long way out.

According to GAA Statsman, Cork finished with a scoring conversion rate of 33 percent, while Kerry’s was 53 percent. Tomás Ó Sé’s Kerry side also scored 2-10 from play, compared to Cork’s 1-3.

‘We are disappointed with the opportunities we left after us,’ says O’Dywer, who saw his side slip seven points behind in those opening minutes.

From here to the break, all 26 minutes, the teams shared eight points, with Kerry looking the most likely to power further in front. Paddy O’Driscoll and Hugh O’Connor (free) got Cork off the mark, but Kerry full-forward William Shine responded with two long-range frees. It was 2-3 to 0-2 after seven minutes, but there were only four more scores in the rest of the half – Hugh O’Connor (two frees) for Cork and Shine replied with two from play for Kerry. 

The Kingdom, who had struggled past Clare in their semi-final, were in control by the break, ahead 2-5 to 0-4. That advantage swelled even more in a second half that never took off; Cork just never recovered from Kerry’s quick-fire goal salvo.

Sub Niall Kelly scored Cork’s second point from play with 35:20 on the board, and that was the Rebels’ first from play since Paddy O’Driscoll’s opening score after 4:08; that’s just not good enough at this level. There were more Cork goal chances in the second half, Hugh O’Connor saw his shot cleared off the line by the Kerry full back, while Liam O’Connell and sub Eoghan Nash both shot wide inside the closing ten minutes. The game, as well as Cork, needed the home side to goal to breathe life into it, but when it came, it was too late. Niall Kelly rifled a rebound to the net in injury time after Ross Corkery’s free was saved, but by then this final was over.

A double-score win for Munster champions Kerry who marched into the All-Ireland semi-finals, while Cork’s championship campaign lasted eight days – a facile semi-final win against Limerick that didn’t prepare Cork for what followed in the provincial final.

Scorers - Cork: N Kelly 1-2; H O’Connor 0-3 (3f); P O’Driscoll 0-1. Kerry: W Shine 0-6 (2f); C McMahon, C Burke 1-0 each; K Evans, L Crowley 0-2 each; A O’Shea, J Nagle 0-1 each.

CORK: C Dungan; D Twomey, J O’Driscoll, D Murphy; T O’Mahony, T Walsh, Sean Brady; P O’Driscoll, S Dore; O Corcoran, L O’Connell, R O’Sullivan; P O’Rourke, H O’Connor, T Cunningham. Subs: E Nash for S Dore (25), N Kelly for P O’Driscoll (ht), R Corkery for P O’Rourke (39), M Quirke for T O’Mahony (46), E de Burca for T Cunningham (51).

KERRY: K Mackessy; C O’Donoghue, A Moynihan, J Nagle; K O’Sullivan, A Heinrich, P O’Leary; C Burke, C O’Connell; T O’Donnell, C McMahon, K Evans; J Clifford, W Shine, A O’Shea. Subs: L Crowley for A O’Shea (41), D O’Callaghan for C O’Donoghue (48), C Lynch for K O’Sullivan (53), C Foley for T O’Donnell (56), R Stack for J Clifford (58).

Referee: J Hayes (Limerick).

Share this article


to our mailing list for the latest news and sport:

Thank You!

You have successfully been subscribed to SouthernStar newsletter!

Form submitting... Thank you for waiting.