Kerry 2-14 Cork 2-9
Cork’s chances of retaining their All-Ireland ladies football title took a hit in the second round of the Munster SFC, writes Mary White.
A six-point defeat to the reigning provincial champions Kerry in Macroom sees Ephie Fitzgerald’s side sweat it out when Kerry take on Waterford next weekend.
Should the Deise prevail, then Cork’s chances of progressing in the championship will come down to permutations.
Alan O’Neill’s side were far superior, however, holding the Division 1 National League champions to just five points in the second-half and outscoring them by 2-6.
The Kingdom operated a blanket defence for much of the contest, but Cork managed to control proceedings in the opening quarter via dual stars Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley. A goal by captain Ciara O’Sullivan on the sixth minute and Hannah Looney on the 22nd minute gave Cork a two-point lead at half-time (2-4 to 0-8), but that’s all they could muster.
Kerry kept in touch with four first-half points from top scorer Louise Ni Mhuirceartaigh and Amanda Brosnan (2), and they could have been ahead by more only for some superb saves by Cork’s Martina O’Brien.
Upon the restart, the 10-time All-Ireland champions were finding it difficult to make space but managed three points courtesy of Hannah Looney, Annie Walsh and Ciara O’Sullivan. Kerry’s defence however made things even more difficult and when Bernie Breen walked through for a well-worked goal on the 37th minute to take the lead for the first time in the contest, they never looked back.
Substitute Anna Galvin added a second on the 48th minute, and for the remainder of the game Cork’s backs were against the wall.
It was an impressive performance by the reigning Munster champions, but you get the feeling this Kerry side are capable of a lot more this season.
Meanwhile, interest today will turn to the Ulster Senior Championship with Cavan taking on Donegal in Killyclogher at 5pm, and Ronan Clarke’s Armagh commencing their summer run against old rivals Monaghan at the same venue at 7pm.
Tomorrow sees 2016 All-Ireland finalists Dublin take on Westmeath in the Leinster Senior Championship in Cusack Park, Mullingar, at 2pm.
Scorers for Cork: O Finn 0-3 (frees), H Looney and C O’Sullivan 1-1 each, D O’Reilly, B Corkery, Annie Walsh and L Coppinger 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: L Ni Mhuirceartaigh 0-7 (0-2 frees), B Breen 1-2, A Brosnan 0-2, L Scanlon, J Lynch, L Rogers 0-1 each.
CORK: M O’Brien; A Barrett, B Stack, E Meaney; R Phelan, D O’Reilly, A Hutchings; R Buckley, B Corkery; H Looney, C O’Sullivan, A Walsh; L Coppinger, Aine T O’Sullivan, O Finn.
Subs: S Kelly for A Barrett (38), R Ni Bhuacahlla for L Coppinger, B O’Sullivan for R Phelan and E Farmer for AT O’Sullivan (46).
KERRY: E Murphy; A O’Connell, A Desmond, A Leonard; D Hallissey, C Kelly, E Lynch; B Breen, L Scanlon; C Buckley, A Brosnan, J Lynch; S Houlihan, L Ni Mhuiceartaigh, L Rogers.
Subs: C Murphy for D Hallissey 15 (inj), E Sherwood for J Lynch (38), A Galvin for A Brosnan (44), K O’Sullivan for C Buckley (46).
Referee: J Mullins (Limerick)