A display to regain trust in Kingdom

Cork 0-12 Kerry 0-24
Did a straw poll in Killarney on Saturday evening. Who of the natives was heading to Cork the following day. All responded no.

One excuse was Páirc Uí Chaoimh; the other four said the team.

“He’s hasn’t got much to work with,” explained a native of Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s options, in the next breath mentioning their April trimming in Tralee.

They weren’t alone. Almost everyone had bought the dummy. Just over 21,028 were in the stadium yesterday to see Kerry register their largest win over Cork at the venue and the biggest Munster final win in Cork since 1962.

In the last county football game in the current stadium, it was a swansong to forget for the home support as their team suffered a systematic failure against a vastly hungrier side.

The win was also Kerry’s eighth provincial final win against Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, meaning they enjoyed a better record there than their neighbours who won six duels.

And how they were full value for this. That it was unexpected will make the victory all the sweeter for Fitzmaurice. But what must surely give him the greatest satisfaction is the execution by his players.

As he said afterwards, they didn’t lose any personal duel. Their earliest substitute was Peter Crowley for Aidan O’Mahony in the 49th minute but the veteran had done his job. His marker Barry O’Driscoll had been called ashore four minutes previously.

At that stage, Kerry were 0-18 to 0-9 up having calmed matters after three Cork scores in a row. The industrious Stephen O’Brien, who turned over plenty of ball, was next off but by then Donnchadh Walsh had restored Kerry’s 10-point lead, which they previously held a minute before half-time.

Cork returned with just two points from play for the remainder of the game, their last, a fisted point from Brian Hurley in the 69th minute, effectively an act of surrender.

Leading 0-13 to 0-5, Kerry had enjoyed handsome half-time advantages before against Cork only to see them evaporate. There was last year in Killarney when they led by seven and scraped a two-point win. In 2011 again in Fitzgerald Stadium, they were eight to the good at the interval and almost lost it.

But what stuck in Fitzmaurice and selector Diarmuid Murphy’s heads was the 2008 final when Kerry suffered a 13-point turnaround. .”

Cork’s statistics make for weeping. Five points from play and a yawning 29 minutes in the first half between their third and fourth points, both Daniel Goulding frees.

The likelihood that Ruairí Deane has torn his cruciate, during his cameo as a first half blood sub for Fintan Goold, only adds to the troubles of Brian Cuthbert who fully acknowledged just how bad his men were.

“Kerry were on top around the middle of the field,” he admitted. ” The team can’t function without the ball going forward. It’s causing us fierce problems and it’s something we’re going to have to sort out.

“On the day we were beaten all over the field and no one can say they were on top of their men. We were beaten in every battle and it’s a case of starting from scratch again.”

Aidan Walsh had started brightly in Cork’s midfield but appeared to pick up a knock towards the end of the first half. Kerry, though, had by then made the centre their own with O’Brien, Fionn Fitzgerald, Bryan Sheehan and Declan O’Sullivan picking up ample breaks as they took full advantage of Ken O’Halloran’s kickouts into the wind.

Cork had no answer for O’Sullivan who truly enjoyed his roaming role around the centre, involving himself in nitty-gritty stuff on top of feeding the inside forwards with the other half-backs.

Michael Shields and Eoin Cadogan will want to forget yesterday in a hurry after being bettered by James O’Donoghue and Paul Geaney. O’Donoghue was so good he appeared to be able to score at will not just in the first half when he collected four points but thereafter with another six against the wind.

That Kerry registered 10 wides to Cork’s six not to mention the couple of shots they put in O’Halloran’s hands in the second half was almost as much an illustration of their dominance as the scoreboard. There was also O’Brien’s shot that slammed against the bar and Darran O’Sullivan blazing a goal attempt wide.

Cork, well and truly, could have been annihilated but this was Kerry’s day. For a team known more for their first half displays not just against Cork but most other All-Ireland contenders, they will take a lot from beating Cork 0-11 to 0-7 in the second half.

Their county may now get behind him too. If ever there was a performance to regain trust, this was it.

Game-changer

Cork had cut the margin to five in the 40th minute but five Kerry points in seven minutes burst the home team’s balloon.

Talk of the town

The sharpness of Kerry, especially James O’Donoghue and Johnny Buckley, who hadn’t played competitive football for the county in 13 weeks.

Did that just happen?

A double score defeat at home for Cork, who looked nothing like the superior side in Tralee just three months ago.

Best on show

Were it not for the exquisite O’Donoghue, Buckley would have been the No1 selection.

Black card watch

None to report.

Sideline superior

Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s match-ups were perfect although his players were so good tactics weren’t the be-all and end-all on this occasion. But why didn’t Cork kick short when they were losing so much in the middle especially in the first half?

The man in black

A steady outing by Cormac Reilly.

What’s next?

Kerry’s All-Ireland quarter-final takes place on the August Bank Holiday weekend. Cork will be drawn against round 3A winners in the round four qualifiers on July 26.

Scorers for Cork: D Goulding (0-6, 3f, 1 45); B Hurley (0-4, 3f); A Walsh, F Goold (0-1).

Scorers for Kerry: J O’Donoghue (0-10, 2 frees); J Buckley, B Sheehan (2fs, 1 45) (0-4 each); P Geaney (0-3); S O’Brien, Declan O’Sullivan, D Walsh (0-1 each)

Subs for Cork: R Deane (inj) for F Goold (blood, 17-21); C O’Driscoll for P Kelly, C O’Neill for J O’Rourke (both h-t); M Collins for B O’Driscoll (45); J O’Sullivan for T Clancy (51); J Hayes for A Walsh (57); T Clancy (Clonakilty) for N Gavin (62).

Sent off: J Hayes (straight, 70+1).

Subs for Kerry: P Crowley for A O’Mahony (49); Darran O’Sullivan for S O’Brien (52); D Moran for B Sheehan (56); K O’Leary for D Walsh, BJ Keane for P Geaney (both 62); K Donaghy for J Buckley (65).

CORK: K O’Halloran; N Galvin, E Cadogan, M Shields; D Cahalane, T Clancy, J Loughrey; A Walsh, F Goold; J O’Rourke, P Kelly, B O’Driscoll; D Goulding, B Hurley, P Kerrigan. KERRY: B Kelly; P Murphy, S Enright, M Ó Sé; A O’Mahony, K Young, F Fitzgerald; A Maher, B Sheehan; J Buckley, Declan O’Sullivan, D Walsh; J O’Donoghue, P Geaney, S O’Brien.

Referee: C Reilly (Meath)



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