Premature? Not a chance. The win was baked and caked. As Jack O’Connor said afterwards, Cork won pulling up.
Even if a subdued Darran O’Sullivan pointed two minutes later, any chance of a Kerry goal — and there had been a few — had disappeared by the break.
There was no urgency in Kerry’s reaction to Goulding’s score, which put Cork four points up.
Seconds later, after attempting to plough what was admittedly a lonely furrow in the full-forward line, Kieran Donaghy was hauled off.
Paul Galvin, whose first touch was untypically off, then made way, much to the delight of the home crowd.
It was then they knew their team had won.
Goulding, in fact, had done the exact same thing in the Division 1 final when also coming on as a substitute to make a scoring contribfution to the victory.
Back then, there were only a scattering of Cork souls to greet his effort. Yesterday, he had a more fitting audience who must have been satisfied with the conviction of their team.
They had been waiting three years to earn these bragging rights but that will make them all the sweeter especially given Cork’s composure and the doubts hanging over Kerry’s All-Ireland credentials.
When previewing yesterday’s game, we spoke of Kerry’s superior flexibility. In fact, it was Cork who were the more so here with just one of the four forwards originally named in the team playing where he was selected (Colm O’Neill).
Kerry, on the other hand, lined out their attack as O’Connor had announced early last week.
The persuasive manner of Cork’s second-half display also put to bed any fears at half-time the result of the game might be swayed by the officiating.
David Coldrick’s laissez-faire approach had threatened to damage the game as a spectacle too.
In all, 27 frees had been awarded with Anthony Maher in additional time the only yellow card recipient of the first-half.
With such leeway, both teams, more so Cork, indulged in a lot of cynical play safe in the knowledge they wouldn’t be blown up too much.
Galvin, having been ticked, should have been yellow-carded in the 21st minute. Nicholas Murphy was also fortunate to escape more than a warning.
At the interval, Cork were three points up — 0-7 to 0-4 — after finishing it stronger.
But they had also started the better too despite Colm Cooper stumbling when through on goal in the opening minute.
Cork were 0-3 to 0-1 up after six minutes, Ciarán Sheehan — a late replacement for Fintan Goold — and Donncha O’Connor pointing after O’Connor and Declan O’Sullivan had exchanged points.
Murphy, who had come in for Pearse O’Neill, was positioned at the edge of the square and was marshalled well by Aidan O’Mahony before he enjoyed a purple patch midway through the second-half.
Kerry burst back with a flurry of points which put them ahead for the first and only time in the 20th minute.
All three scores came from Cooper’s pegs, the latter two from frees.
Prior to the last of those, he had a goal chance denied by Alan Quirke after Donaghy, who should have kicked towards the net himself, passed to him.
The resultant 45 was put wide by Brendan Kealy, one of two he failed to convert on a day when Bryan Sheehan’s dead-ball expertise was sorely missed.
It was then Cork’s turn to score three on the bounce, O’Neill making up for a miss from an easy free with a delightful point, which was quickly followed by one from Paul Kerrigan and then an O’Connor free after sloppy play from Seamus Scanlon.
Although Kerry didn’t score for the remainder of the half, Quirke was sharp to block a Donaghy shot after Darran O’Sullivan and Cooper had linked up.
How Kerry rued that spurned opportunity as O’Neill floated over a free to put Cork three ahead following an O’Mahony foul.
With Scanlon and an unlucky Kieran O’Leary exiting at half-time, Johnny Buckley and James O’Donoghue brought vitality to the Kerry attack.
O’Donoghue, with his first touch, and Declan O’Sullivan had Cork’s lead whittled down to one two minutes in but Cork managed to keep their noses in front.
They restored their three-point lead in the 44th minute after Paudie Kissane punted over an outside-of-the-boot effort following O’Connor and Cooper scores.
Galvin responded with one of his own and O’Donoghue grabbed his second only for Kerrigan to punish a Peter Crowley mistake.
Murphy had a shot snuffed out by Brendan Kealy in the 54th minute but Goulding reacted quickest to put three between the teams again.
Twice Kerry got within two via a Cooper free and an Eoin Brosnan point but O’Connor responded each time, the first after a Murphy lay-off and then almost directly from a Kerry kick-out.
Goulding’s defining score, reacting quicker than Declan O’Sullivan to a Tomás Ó Sé pass, had Cork’s supporters believing.
With two of Kerry’s leaders taken off the field, it was left to O’Neill to perform the coup de graces.
Kerry already knew their fate.
Scorers for Cork: D O’Connor 0-6 (2f); C O’Neill 0-5 (2f); P Kerrigan, D Goulding 0-2 each; C Sheehan, P Kissane 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: C Cooper 0-5 (3f); Declan O’Sullivan, J O’Donoghue 0-2 each; P Galvin, E Brosnan, Darran O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Subs for Cork: D Goulding for Sheehan (52); B O’Driscoll for Murphy (70); E Cotter for Kissane (73); M Collins for Kerrigan (74).
Subs for Kerry: J Buckey for Scanlon, J O’Donoghue for O’Leary (both h-t); P Curtin for Donaghy (63); BJ Keane for Galvin (66).
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)