The reigning champions had been bidding to match Kerry’s record, however the Kingdom had other ideas in front of the 1,100-strong crowd, having garnered confidence from beating Cork in the opening round of the championship in Cahersiveen last month (3-10 to 3-8).
A delighted Kerry captain, Bernie Breen, noted the experience of losing last year’s All-Ireland final in Croke Park had helped them over the line in their last two encounters with the champions.
“Coming into the game we were hoping to push on from the win in Cahersiveen and that really stood to us in the final minutes because we knew we could do it,” he said.
“I suppose the difference between last year and this year is that we experienced the hype of Croke Park and we’re finding it easier now to play in front of big crowds and in getting over the line in big games.”
Kerry led at half time, 0-6 to 0-7, in a cracking encounter that saw the sides level 11 times throughout.
“They were the worst conditions I ever played in,” said player of the match Louise Galvin of the fierce heat. “There wasn’t even a puff of air out there, and I know that’s good for the game itself, but it was just so, so hot.”
Cork started the better in the second half with Corkery goaling in the 40th minute, only for Kerry’s Patrice Kearney to cancel it out in the 44 minute with a goal of her own.
In the last 10 minutes both teams went on runs, with Cork’s Geraldine O’Flynn slinging over three frees before Ní Mhuirceartaigh popped up with the lead point with just two minutes remaining — 1-16 to 1-15.
O’Flynn had a chance to level matters from a long distance free inside the final minute, only for the ball to hit the crossbar and land into the hands of a Kerry defender.
For the first time in the history of the qualifiers, Cork will now have to go through the back-door, with the draws being made today in Croke Park.
Scorers for Cork: V Mulcahy (0-4, 0-3f), G O’Flynn (0-3 frees), B Corkery 1-1, N Cleary and O Finn 0-2 each, R Ní Bhuachalla, D O’Sullivan and O Farmer 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: L Ní Mhuirceartaigh (0-7, 0-3f), S Houlihan (0-4, 0-2f), D Corridan 0-3, P Dennehy 1-1, B Breen 0-1.
CORK: M O’Brien; AM Walsh (c), B Stack, D O’Reilly; B Corkery, Angela Walsh, G O’Flynn; Annie Walsh, Rena Buckley; N Cleary, D O’Sullivan, O Farmer; V Mulcahy, R Ní Bhuachalla, O Finn.
Subs: C O’Sullivan for Annie Walsh and Emma Farmer for O Finn (45), A Barrett for AM Walsh (56), S Kelly for R Ní Bhuachalla (59).
KERRY: E Murphy; C Lynch, A Desmond, A Lyons; B lane, C Kelly, D Hallissey; E Sherwood, B Breen; S Houlihan, D Corridan,L Rogers; P Dennehy, L Galvin, L Ní Mhuirceartaigh.
Subs: M O’Connell for D Corridan (52), J Brosnan for P Dennehy and L Mangan for B Lane (53).
Referee: M Duffy (Tipperary).