With just three players on view from last year’s defeat to Waterford — captain Patrick Collins, Shane O’Brien and Alan O’Callaghan — the management team of Denis Ring and Mark Landers had to be happy with their new-look side. However, Ring acknowledged tougher tests are to come.
“We have a serious task ahead of us now, Limerick or Tipp,” he said.
“There is no back door there. We might have preferred a better draw. Limerick are hammering the daylights out of everybody. We would be away against Limerick and if it is Tipp we are at home. But at this point and time Limerick would appear to be very strong. The next game for us is winner takes all. We have just one match to get it right. Unfortunately, it is going to be the difference between hurling in August and not.
“We have put in a phenomenal effort and we are happy with the display tonight. But the next nine weeks are very serious for us. We have a lot of matches lined up and we will also go back to our gym programme.”
Cork led 1-14 to 0-3 at half-time with Eoghan Keniry netting eight minutes before the break. The Rebels took over in the second half with further majors from Keniry, sub Billy Dunne and Luke Meade (2). Inside forwards Keniry and Sean Hayes are impressive ball-winners and will prove a handful for any full-back line. Luke Meade and Dayne Lee were also highly influential in an attack that found it all too easy.
It would have to be said — even though it was one-way traffic on the scoreboard — the visitors were far better than their nine-point return.
Goalkeeper Stephen Murphy was superb between the sticks, centre-forward Michael O’Leary is an excellent hurler and was the scorer of two superb points from play, while Jack Goulding — despite wearing No 14 — roamed all over the pitch catching the eye many times.
The Kingdom will meet Clare in a couple of weeks in a play-off game.
Scorers for Cork: L Meade and E Keniry 2-4 each, D Lee 0-7, S Hayes 0-6 (5f), B Dunne 1-0, T O’Connor 0-3, D Meaney and D Buckley 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: B Barrett 0-4 (4f), M O’Leary 0-2, R Collins, J Conway and A Murphy 0-1 each.
CORK: P Collins (Ballinhassig, capt); C Walsh (St Finbarr’s), S Bourke (Grenagh), E Gunning (Na Piarsaigh); S O’Brien (St Catherine’s), A O’Callaghan (Blackrock), D Browne (Kanturk); S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), D Meaney (Blackrock); L Meade (Newcestown), T O’Connor (Inniscarra), D Lee (Na Piarsaigh); M Dolan (Douglas), S Hayes (Mallow), E Keniry (Killeagh/St Ita’s).
Subs: D Casey (Charleville) for T O’Connor (38), B Dunne (Fr O’Neills) for M Dolan (38), D Buckley (Shandrum) for S O’Donoghue (44), D Dooling (Glen Rovers) for D Meaney (48), J O’Sullivan (Ballygiblin) for E Keniry (51).
KERRY: S Murphy (Causeway); S O’Sullivan (Abbeydorney), J Barrett (Causeway), A O’Mahony (Crotta O’Neill’s); M Leane (Ballyheigue), D Shanahan (Lixnaw), M Lynch (Causeway); B Barrett (Causeway), F O’Sullivan (Kenmare); J Buckley (Lixnaw), M O’Leary (Abbeydorney), J Brick (Kilmoyley); J Diggins (Causeway), J Goulding (Ballyduff), F Mackessy (St Brendan’s, capt).
Subs: R Collins (Kilmoyley) for M Lynch (23), J Diggins (Causeway) for J Barrett (36), D O’Carroll (Ballyduff) for F O’Sullivan (40), J Conway (Crotta O’Neill’s) for J Brick (46), A Murphy (Dr Crokes) for B Barrett (52).
Referee: Tomás Walsh (Waterford).