Cork’s ability to strike for goals left them in good health throughout the tie. Fiachra Lynch smacked a fine left-foot finish to the net in the seventh-minute to propel them into an early lead and it acted as the separating margin at the interval, as they held a 1-3 to 0-4 advantage.
Kerry midfielder Andrew Garnett launched over the opening score of the second-half, but Lynch pounced for a critical goal again in the 33rd minute. The score had a twin effect of emboldening Cork for the remainder of the match and hampering Kerry’s hopes of a recovery.
Cork have become masters at this grade in recent times under the tutelage of coach Mossie Barrett and this match illustrated that they have assembled a strong side again. In defence Enda Wiseman, Richard O’Sullivan and Anthony Fenton gave expert performances, and the only time Kerry threatened the Cork goal was in the 15th minute when Paddy O’Shea brilliantly denied Michael O’Donoghue. At midfield Andrew O’Sullivan and Chris O’Donovan got a strong early foothold in the game, with O’Sullivan also finding time to canter forward for three points.
In attack Lynch was the game-breaker, with Vincent Hurley offering a viable outlet close to goal. A John Paul Murphy free in the 18th minute put Cork 1-3 to 0-2 in front, yet Kerry rallied with good points by O’Donoghue and Paddy Curtin. Garnett’s score after half-time raised Kerry’s hopes but they were left cold when Lynch struck his second goal.
Cork kicked on from there rattling off an impressive sequence of five points with Lynch and O’Sullivan central to that spree. Their best score came in the 46th minute when a flowing team move that started with Richard O’Sullivan in defence culminated in Daniel O’Donovan’s perceptive pass being finished off by substitute Paudie Cahill.
With a nine-point advantage in their possession with 12 minutes left, Cork had essentially booked their passage in the provincial final.
Cork rounded off the game in injury-time; Lynch momentarily looked on the cusp of a hat-trick but after his shot was blocked, Michael Murphy was on hand to shoot clinically to the net.
Scorers: Cork: F Lynch 2-3 (0-1f), M Murphy 1-0, A O’Sullivan 0-3, V Hurley 0-2, JP Murphy (0-1f), P Cahill 0-1 each.
Kerry: M O’Donoghue 0-3 (0-1f), P Curtin 0-2, A Garnett, N Mahony, D O’Callaghan, G O’Driscoll 0-1 each.
CORK: P O’Shea; P Gayer, E Wiseman, M Prout; R O’Sullivan, A Fenton, M Fehilly; A O’Sullivan, C O’Donovan; D O’Donovan, C Keane, C O’Driscoll; V Hurley, F Lynch, JP Murphy. Subs: P Cahill for Murphy (41), N O’Riordan for Hurley (53), M Murphy for Keane (53), K O’Brien for O’Donovan (63)
KERRY: S Óg O’Ciardubháin; W O’Sullivan, E Hickson, B Maguire; S Enright, F Griffin, J King; A Garnett, A O’Sullivan; P O’Connell, N Mahony, G O’Driscoll; D O’Callaghan, M O’Donoghue, P Curtin. Subs: D Doyle for Hickson (42), G Sayers for O’Connell (47), N Fleming for O’Callaghan (51).
Referee: Maurice Condon (Waterford)