Kerry 2-19 Meath 1-14
A tour-de-force performance from Conor Cox steered Kerry to a third consecutive All-Ireland JFC title at O’Moore Park this afternoon, writes Eoghan Cormican.
The Listowel Emmets man, who was part of the 2015 winning side, finished with 1-5 from play, and he was a large contributor in Kerry’s third-quarter surge which killed off the Meath challenge.
Kerry led by 1-8 to 0-7 at the break, the key score being the 14th minute goal gifted to Cox.
Meath goalkeeper Johnny Lynch kicked possession straight to the full-forward and he made no mistake from close range.
The opening major propelled the Kingdom into a 1-5 to 0-3 lead and while Cox and Meath’s Ben Brennan subsequently exchanged minors, the Royals landed the next three scores to bring it back to a two-point ball game, 1-6 to 0-7.
The winners finished the half stronger, however, with Philip O’Connor and Cox splitting the posts.
A pair of points from Cox stretched their lead to six shortly after the resumption and although Meath replied, Tomas Ó Sé's fisted goal on 43 minutes established considerable daylight between the sides. Indeed, with three of the next four scores going Kerry’s way, the scoreboard had them 2-15 to 0-10 in front on 48 minutes.
The losers did string four points in-a-row, thereafter and also managed an injury-time goal through Seán Reilly, but it was largely inconsequential.
They were left to rue the two goals chances they had in the first-half, Pa Kilkenny and goalkeeper Tomás Mac an tSaoir repelling the respective efforts.
The latter also made two important second-half saves.
Kerry, who finished with 14 men following a straight red card shown to Eanna Ó Conchúir, move ahead of Cork on the roll of honour with 18 titles.
Scorers for Kerry: C Cox (1-8, 0-3 frees); T Ó Sé (1-3); K Spillane, P O’Connor (0-3 each); E Ó Conchúir, I Parker (0-1 each).
Scorers for Meath: B Brennan (0-6, 0-2 ‘45s, 0-1 free); J Conlon (0-4); S Reilly (1-0); K Ross, D Rowe, D Healy, W Carry (0-1 each).
Kerry: T Mac An tSaoir (An Ghaeltacht); E Kiely (Brosna), J McGuire (Listowel Emmets), B Sugrue (Renard); J Walsh (Knocknagoshel), P Kilkenny (Glenbeigh-Gencar), D O’Brien (Glenflesk); R Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht), B O’Sullivan (Valentia); P O’Connor (Cordal), J O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), E Ó Conchúir (An Ghaeltacht); K Spillane (Templenoe), C Cox (Listowel Emmets), T Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht).
Subs: L Carey (Beaufort) for O’Donoghue (38 mins); M Foley (Ballydonoghue) for Kilkenny (51); S O’Sullivan (Templenoe) for Cox (58); I Parker (Churchill) for O’Sullivan (58); PJ Mac Laímh (An Ghaeltacht) for Walsh (60); DJ Murphy (Gneeveguilla) for Kiely (63).
Meath: J Lynch (Moynalty); L Moran (Trim), M Flood (St Brigid’s) A Lynch (St Colmcille’s); D Toner (Curraha), W Carry (Drumbaragh), D Healy (Longwood); A Flanagan (Clonard), C Farrell (Dunderry); N Shorthall (Curraha), K Ross (Castletown), C McConnell (Bective); J Scully (Oldcastle), D Rowe (Syddan), B Brennan (St Colmcille’s).
Subs: J Conlon (St Colmcille’s) for Scully (19 mins); S Coogan (Dunderry) for Ross (41); S Reilly (Moylough) for Farrell (46); C O’Rourke (Trim) for Carry (49); C Moriarty (Curraha) for Shorthall (53); S Coogan (Dunderry) for Rowe (57);
Referee: J Hickey (Carlow).