Kerry 0-20 Cork 1-12
By Eoghan Cormican, Austin Stack Park
Cork have been relegated to Division 2 of the football league after their fourth defeat of the spring, as Kerry go safely into the semi-finals.
Peadar Healy’s charges had an anxious wait at the final whistle to see if Dongeal had obliged in getting a result against Monaghan which would have saved the Rebels.
Monaghan, though, snuck victory to relegate Cork who had an inferior scoring difference to the Farney men and Donegal – all three teams finished on six points, as did Mayo.
Kerry were 0-11 to 1-5 clear at the break and would have been out of sight but for a Colm O’Neill penalty deep in first-half stoppages. It came about after Peter Crowley dragged Ian Maguire to the ground, handing Cork a lifeline they so desperately needed.
The visitors, who failed to score from play in the opening period, were terrorised by a Kerry full-forward line full of confidence.
Adding to Cork’s problems was the early dominance of midfield pair Kieran Donaghy and David Moran.
It was these two players who combined to put Kerry 0-3 to 0-2 in front after eight minutes, the first of eight unanswered points from the home outfit; Stephen O’Brien, Colm Cooper (0-3), Johnny Buckley, Shane Enright and Alan Fitzgerald all finding the target during a productive 12-minute spell.
That scoring sequence left Kerry 0-10 to 0-3 in front and so it is from that position that the Kerry management wouldn’t have been too pleased to be just one score ahead at the break.
Cork spent the early stages of the second period further eating into Kerry’s advantage and three on the bounce from Paul Kerrigan, Brian O’Driscoll and a Brian Hurley free had them level on 59 minutes.
Crucially, though, Peadar Healy’s charges never snuck their noses in front and Kerry, though Marc Ó Sé and Colm Cooper, were able to ease back in front. Cork’s chances evaporated with the sending off of Michael Shields for an elbow on Michael Geaney on 67 minutes. Reduced to 14 men, their challenge withered and Kerry finished strongly with points from Fionn Fitzgerald, David Moran and Colm Cooper.
Scorers for Kerry: C Cooper (0-6, 0-3 frees); A Fitzgerald (0-5); F Fitzgerald, B O’Sullivan, M Ó Sé, M Griffin, K Donaghy, D Moran (0-1 ’45), J Buckley, D Walsh, S O’Brien (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cork: C O’Neill (1-3, 1-0, 0-3 frees); B Hurley (0-6, 0-4 frees); P Kerrigan, D Goulding, B O’Driscoll (0-1 each).
Kerry: B Kealy; S Enright, M Ó Sé, P O’Connor; M Griffin, P Crowley, K Young; K Donaghy, D Moran; P Murphy, D Walsh, J Buckley; S O’Brien, C Cooper, A Fitzgerald.
Subs: F Fitzgerald for O’Connor (blood sub, 17 mins), O’Connor for F Fitzgerald (HT), F Fitzgerald for Crowley (bc, HT), B O’Sullivan for Buckley (51), BJ Keane for A Fitzgerald (54), J Lyne for Griffin (62), M Geaney for D Walsh (66), T Walsh for O’Brien (67)
Cork: R Price; E Cadogan, K Crowley, D Hazel; T Clancy, K O’Driscoll, B O’Driscoll; I Maguire, S Kiely; C O’Driscoll, M Collins, R Deane; P Kerrigan, C O’Neill, B Hurley.
Subs: L Connolly for Deane (42), D Goulding for O’Neill (55), F Goold for C O’Driscoll (63), M Shields for Cadogan (63)
Referee: D Gough (Meath).