By John Fogarty
Kerry 1-23 Cork 0-15
An explosive Kerry made light work of Cork’s challenge to claim the county’s fifth consecutive Munster SFC title in Fitzgerald Stadium.
Watched by over 31,000, the visitors were left on their heels when Kerry were quick out of the blocks in the second half, doubling their half-time lead to eight points inside the first four minutes.
The game drifted away from Cork as Kerry re-established dominance in midfield and the remainder of the affair turned into a procession.
Kerry will be worried about the extent of Fionn Fitzgerald’s injury, which required lengthy attention, but their sharpness was a sight to behold and they struck the only goal of the game in the 64th minute to push 12 points ahead.
It crowned a move that saw Kieran Donaghy break down a ball into the path of Paul Geaney after Paul Murphy had delivered from distance.
Kerry were efficiency personified in the first half, taking all 11 of the scoring opportunities that came their way.
Cork, enjoying the wind factor, made less than half of the 14 shots they took at goal, Ian Maguire panicking a little when he honed in on goal and his tame shot eventually being cleared.
Kerry were far more urgent than their neighbours, that fact evidenced by none more so than James O’Donoghue who with Paul Geaney helped himself to four points by the break.
Kerry went 0-4 to no score up in the opening four minutes, two of them paved by Paul Geaney and Donnchadh Walsh palming ball quickly into the hands of their team-mates.
Cork eventually settled and the score-line read 0-8 to 0-5 by the 25th minute as Kerry struggled to cope with the menacing Maguire in the middle.
Sean Powter was giving Walsh, Kerry’s regular attacking outlet, a difficult time of it too.
Cork, though, were heavily relying on frees whereas Kerry looked to score almost every time they broke past their opponents’ 45-metre line. They did fail to score between the 19th and 27th minutes but Ken O’Halloran had to make himself big to prevent Paul Geaney finding the net after Kerry had found a way past Cork’s sweeper in the 27th minute.
Scorers for Kerry: P. Geaney (1-5, 0-1 free); J. O’Donoghue (0-7, 4 frees); S. O’Brien (0-3); M. Geaney (0-2, 1 45); A. Maher, K. Donaghy, D. Moran, P. Murphy, B.J. Keane, S. Enright (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cork: D. O’Connor (0-6, 4 frees); N. Coakley (frees); M. Collins (1 free), L. Connolly (1 free) (0-2 each); I. Maguire, Tomás Clancy, P. Kerrigan (0-1 each).
KERRY: B. Kelly; F. Fitzgerald (c), M. Griffin, S. Enright; P. Crowley, T. Morley, P. Murphy; D. Moran, A. Maher; M. Geaney, K. McCarthy, D. Walsh; P. Geaney, K. Donaghy, J. O’Donoghue.
Subs for Kerry: S. O’Brien for D. Walsh (h-t); J. Buckley for K. McCarthy (41); K. Young for F. Fitzgerald (blood, 50-ft); J. Barry for A. Maher (58); B.J. Keane for J. O’Donoghue (63); D. O’Sullivan for K. Donaghy (65); J. Lyne for M. Geaney (66).
CORK: K. O’Halloran; K. Crowley, J. O’Sullivan, M Shields; S. Powter, J. Loughrey, Tomás Clancy; R. Deane, I. Maguire; A. Walsh, M. Collins, K. O’Driscoll; P. Kerrigan, N. Coakley, L. Connolly.
Subs for Cork: A. O’Connor for R. Deane (blood, 30-h-t); D. O’Connor for N. Coakley (h-t); A. O’Connor for R. Deane (39); C. O’Driscoll for M. Shields (41); M. Hurley for K. O’Driscoll (46); E. Cadogan for J. O’Sullivan (black), S. Cronin for J. Loughrey (both 64).
Referee: P. Neilan (Roscommon).