The home crowd hit cruise control when moving 0-11 to 0-8 clear on 44 minutes and yet they failed to seal the deal until a further half an hour had passed, included in that was a gripping normal-time conclusion and two hugely entertaining 10-minute periods of extra-time.
A Dan Ó Duinnín fisted point on 52 minutes, only Cork’s second score of the half, kick-started their comeback effort and they would win the next two kick-outs to draw level at 0-11 apiece through Stephen Leonard and Shane Kingston.
Kerry had their opportunities into the final quarter to drive out of sight, a few wayward efforts didn’t even reach Mark White’s goal and instead they lay on the ropes coming down the home stretch. From having been consigned to defeat to the cusp of victory, momentum resided with the visitors. Cork would not capitalise, however.
Mark O’Connor produced a superb block to deny Sean McEvoy and to extra-time we went. Kerry, backed by the elements, outscored Cork 0-4 to 0-1 in the first period of extra-time – Sean O’Shea, Graham O’Sullivan and two from Geaney setting the Rebels a difficult target to match. Indeed, it was a target that looked beyond them when Evan Ryle and Kingston registered wides at the change of ends.
On 66 minutes, the pendulum swung again. Ó Duinnín gathered Cathal O’Rourke’s delivery — the Carbery Rangers player impressing when introduced — and the midfielder turned full-forward buried the ball low into the right corner of Billy Courtney’s goal. The intensity rose again.
Kerry centre-back Mike Breen swept down the field with a minute left, offloaded to sub Michael Foley and the Kingdom fans celebrated another memorable victory over their neighbours.
The winners enjoyed a slight wind advantage in the first period and deservedly took a two-point lead with them as they returned to the dressing room just after 8pm.
Cork’s Sean Powter, though wearing number four, lined out at right corner-back, charged with marshalling Conor Geaney. The Kingdom inside line had been well signposted as their most dangerous unit and Cork struggled to tie down Geaney, Stephen O’Sullivan and Cormac Linnane. And with Mark O’Connor and John Mark Foley on top around the middle, the supply of ball inside was often and accurate.
Successive fouls on Geaney allowed the Kerry place-ball kickers – Geaney and Linnane – carve out an early advantage. Indeed, two further efforts from O’Connor and Ronan Buckley established a 0-4 to 0-2 lead after 12 minutes.
Cork were by no means being outplayed, but their lateral approach was coming unstuck against a green and gold wall each time they pressed into opposition territory.
Three without reply from Ó Duinnín and Sherlock (0-2) swung the pendulum in favour of Donal O’Sullivan’s troops; three on the bounce at the other end quickly undoing Cork’s scoring spurt — Gavin White, Sean O’Shea and Geaney (free) on target amid squandered chances by Cork pair David Lowney and Sean McEvoy.
Two Sherlock minors sandwiched white flags from Geaney and Billy Courtney (‘45), both Kerry white flags arising from chances that could have easily ended with the umpire reaching for green.
Geaney and Linnane’s dead-ball accuracy restored their three-point cushion early in the second half and as Jack O’Connor troops eased towards a comfortable win, Cork roused themselves to provide a thrilling finale.
C Geaney (0-5, 0-3 frees); C Linnane (0-2 frees), S O’Shea (0-2 each); S O’Sullivan, M O’Connor, M Foley, G White, B Courtney (0-1’45) G O’Sullivan, R Buckley (0-1 each).
Dan Ó Duinnín (1-3); S Sherlock (0-3, 0-2 frees); S Leonard (0-2, 0-1 free); S Kingston, S McEvoy, C O’Rourke, E Ryle (0-1 each).
B Courtney (Dr Crokes); D Brosnan (Gneeveguilla), J Foley (Ballydonoghue), J Morgan (Austin Stacks); G White (Dr Crokes), M Breen (Beaufort), D O’Brien (Glenflesk); M O’Connor (Dingle), JM Foley (Kilgarvan); B Ó Seanacháin (Ballydonoghue), B Sweeney (Listowel Emmets), S O’Shea (Kenmare); S O’Sullivan (Templenoe), C Linnane (Beale), C Geaney (Dingle).
R Buckley (Listry) for Sweeney (2 mins, inj), M Foley (Spa) for O’Sullivan (44), D Casey (St Mary’s) for Buckley (51), G O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses) for White (55), D O’Shea (Kenmare) for Breen), A Barry (Na Gaeil) for JM Foley (59), T O’Sullivan (Dingle) for Barry, S O’Sullivan for Casey (both 60), B Barrett (Ardfert) for O’Shea (67), G White for Foley (70), M Breen replaces O’Brien (70).
M White (Clonakilty); S Powter (Douglas), T O’Connell (Clonakilty), K Dwyer (Macroom); S Madigan (Buttevant), R Walsh (Castlehaven), T Bushe (Ilen Rovers); E O’Brien (Douglas), D Ó Duinnín (Cill na Martra); D Lowney (Clonakilty), S Kingston (Douglas), S McEvoy (Clonakilty); S Leonard (Ilen Rovers), G Murphy (Castletownbere), S Sherlock (St Finbarr’s).
N Walsh (Douglas) for Dwyer (27 mins, inj), E Ryle (Carrigaline) for O’Brien (44), C O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) for Bushe (51), C Hughes (Canovee) for Sherlock (51), E McSweeney (Knocknagree) for Lowney (60), S O’Neill (Cill Dairbre) for Leonard (65), C Dennehy (St Finbarr’s) for O’Connell (73), S Lowney for Kingston (76). Ref: S Lonergan (Tipperary).