It marks the Rebels’ eighth successive final in the competition under Eamonn Ryan, who led them to their first league decider back in 2004, and it also marks Cork’s second bid for three titles in a row.
Their final opponents, Galway, however will be going all out to win their first ever title at this level when the sides meet on Saturday, May 9, and will be looking for revenge for the 2010 showdown.
League champions Cork were made dig deep against Alan O’Neill’s Kerry, in a game that saw the sides level five times in the first half.
Cork led at the interval courtesy of a point from Ashling Hutchings, who Ryan had in fact moved from corner-back for her first start at centre-forward (0-7 to 0-6).
Defensively both sides did well, with Roisín Phelan, Marie Ambrose and Vera Foley keeping Kerry at bay, while for the Kingdom, Caroline Kelly, captain Cáit Lynch and goalkeeper Edel Murphy stood out.
Upon the restart however, three points from Valerie Mulcahy gave Cork the cushion they needed, and with Annie Walsh, Orla Finn and Geraldine O’Flynn pointing, the reigning champions continued to keep their noses in front.
Kerry continued to push, however they would only manage to score four points in the second half, all frees from the boot of Sarah Houlihan.
Cork coach Eamonn Ryan was content with what his side produced, but believes they’ll have to up their game against Galway in the final.
“I thought we did reasonably well, given that we had a few positional changes in starting Marie Ambrose at corner-back and Aisling Hutchings at centre-forward.
“I suppose the 16-point loss to Dublin two weeks ago was bit of a wake-up call for us and we worked on a few things before we came face to face with Kerry.
“But Galway will be a different kettle of fish. They’ve proven to be the team to watch in the league this year and we’ll have to up our game another few notches again,” he said.
Ryan will be without All-Star defender Deirdre O’Reilly for the final, given that she is getting married next weekend, however hopefully he’ll have rising star Eimear Scally back, who missed out on yesterday’s game due to injury.
V Mulcahy 0-5 (0-4 frees), O Finn 0-3, C O’Sullivan, A Hutchings, A Walsh, G O’Flynn and B Corkery 0-1 each.
S Houhilan 0-4 (frees), L Ní Mhuirceartaigh 0-3 (0-2f), C Buckley, B Breen and L Galvin 0-1 each.
M O’Brien; M Ambrose, R Phelan, B Stack; V Foley, R O’Sullivan, G O’Flynn; R Buckley, B Corkery; C O’Sullivan (C), A Hutchings, A Walsh; D O’Sullivan, V Mulcahy, O Finn.
G Kearney for D O’Sullivan (47) and D O’Reilly for A Hutchings (57).
E Murphy; G Crowley, A Desmond, A Leonard; C Murphy, C Lynch (C), C Kelly; M Quirke, B Breen; S Houlihan, L Galvin, D Hallissey; P Dennehy, L Ní Mhuirceartaigh, A Brosnan.
C Buckley for D Hallissey (11; inj), E Sherwood for C Murphy (37), L Scanlon for P Dennehy (47), M O’Connell for A Brosnan (52) and E Kavanagh for M Quirke (57).
J Niland (Sligo)