Hero Hayes gives Rebels a second chance

Kerry 0-10 Cork 0-10

Cork, chasing a third victory in a row over their great rivals, looked to be going out of the Championship when Kieran O’Leary’s point in the 45th minute edged the home side four clear.

However the defending champions put in a storming last 17 minutes, during which they held Kerry scoreless, and created enough chances to have won the game before having to depend on Hayes’s equaliser to send the game to a replay in Pairc Uí Rinn next Saturday (1.30pm).

A draw was a fair result, but Cork will point to the number of goal chances they created but didn’t take, while Kerry maximised limited possession, but in times past, would never let a four-point lead slip against Cork.

In the circumstances, both coaches were relieved to get another opportunity. “To say we got out of jail would be an understatement,” said Cork coach Tony Leahy.

“It looked curtains for us midway through the second half when we went four points down, but I’ll have to give great credit to the lads, they battled extremely hard and could have stolen it at the finish. There were occasions in the game when we took the wrong option, but we’re still in the Championship.

“We had been built up to be the team to beat, but you can never write off Kerry, particularly here in Killarney. Again I’ve got to heap praise on our team. Another side would have thrown the towel in but our lads showed tremendous character in the way they came back and got a result.

“I’m not making excuses. We are usually clinical in front of goal and created at least three chances which on another day we would have put away, but maybe the greasy conditions didn’t suit us.

“It’s hard to credit, but we never led in the game. In the early minutes we could have had at least one goal. In contrast Kerry were far more economical with possession and had us struggling for long periods.”

Cork won the toss and elected to play against the strong wind but it was Kerry, through the excellent Bryan Sheehan, who made the better start and led 0-3 to 0-0 after 12 minutes. Paul Kerrigan’s electrifying pace posed a lot of problems for the home defence but his finishing let him down twice, once in each half, as he blazed wide after being through on goal.

However Cork eventually settled and with the Nemo man continuing to torment the Kerry defence with his pace, they eventually got on the scoreboard with a John Hayes point after 15 minutes. Kerry continued to hold sway around midfield and after storming into an 0-5 to 0-1 lead, lost a great chance of a goal when Paul O’Connor’s first effort came back to him, but with only the ‘keeper to beat, he blazed over the bar.

Cork finished the half strongly and were just a point down at the break, 0-6 to 0-5, after four unanswered points by John Hayes (3) and a marvellous Kerrigan effort.

Kerry dominated the early minutes of the second half and by the end of the third quarter led 0-10 to 0-6, their ninth point a magnificent effort by Bryan Sheehan from a line ball.

However Cork would not roll over, and the introduction of Roy Leahy to full forward added potency to their attack. As Cork applied the pressure, Kerry were grateful for a super save by keeper Brendan Kealy from Daniel Goulding, and Cork missed two further chances of goals, when Goulding failed to hold Fintan Gould’s pass, and Paul Kerrigan blazed wide.

Kerry were hanging on as Cork whittled down their lead and it eventually fell to John Hayes to earn a replay with the equaliser.

Kerry coach John O’Dwyer said he was disappointed at not winning the game, but was glad to settle for another day out.

“There has never been much between Cork and Kerry at underage level. We certainly had chances to win, so too had Cork.

“On balance, a draw was a fair result.”

Scorers: Kerry: B. Sheehan 0-4 (0-2 frees, 0-1 45); P. O’Connor, K. O’Leary (0-1 free) 0-3 each; Cork: J. Hayes 0-6 (0-4 frees); P. Kerrigan 0-2; R. Leahy, F. Gould (free) 0-1 each.

KERRY: B. Kealy; D. O’Connor, L. Quinn, M. O’Mahony; C. Kelleher, K. Young, P. Reidy; A. O’Sullivan, B. Sheehan; A. Kenneally, D. O’Sullivan, M. Murphy; K. O’Leary, A. Maher, P. O’Connor.

Subs: M. O’Donoghue for Kennelly; D. Griffin for Kelleher; P. O’Connor for Maher; D. Geaney for O’Donoghue.

CORK: K. O’Halloran; C. Murphy, S. O’Donoghue, R. Carey; D. Limrick, M. Shields, E. Cadogan; A. O’Connor, P. Kelly; F. Gould, B. Cotter, P. Kerrigan; D. Goulding, P. O’Flynn, J. Hayes.

Subs: R. Leahy for O’Flynn; A. O’Sullivan for Kelly.

Referee: N. Meade (Limerick).

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