“I’m shocked to be honest. I knew it was something we could do if we put in a performance and if everyone worked together, but Cork are All-Ireland champions so it is bit of a surprise. But, by no means do we think we’ve anything other than the Munster Championship won. If we want to go places after this, there’s a lot of work we’ll have to do,” said the Castleisland Desmonds centre-back.
The defeat was the biggest Cork have suffered since Eamonn Ryan’s reign began in 2004, even surpassing their 2010 All-Ireland quarter-final loss against Tyrone (0-13 to 3-11), and the disappointment was tangible as the Cork players watched Lynch lift the Dairygold Cup for Kerry’s second title in three years.
Cork never found any sort of rhythm during the tie. Kerry ripped them open for three unanswered points and although Cork pulled it back to go two points in front with 10 minutes played courtesy of an own-goal by Kerry’s Maria Quirke, they combusted after that.
Dual stars Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley looked visibly tired in midfield, having had to play with the Cork senior camogie team earlier in the day against Offaly in Páirc Uí Rinn. But all over the pitch Cork looked lethargic. Errors were rife and Kerry pounced, scoring six unanswered points thanks to the accuracy of player of the match Louise Ní Mhuirceartaigh, who finished with 1-5 from play.
A Cork goal by Annie Walsh, against the run of play, three minutes from the break, left them trailing by two points at half-time (2-2 to 0-10), but crucially the hosts would only manage two scores thereafter.
Defensively, Kerry were superb, with Cáit Lynch, Caroline Kelly, Aislinn Desmond and Bernie Breen instigating attack after attack, and as Cork continued to make unforced errors, Alan O’Neill’s side had the conviction to punish upfront.
Megan O’Connell scored the first of Kerry’s goals in the 38th minute, while Ní Mhuirceartaigh added their second just 10 minutes later, and Sarah Houlihan chipped in with five points.
Eamonn Ryan introduced All-Star Deirdre O’Reilly and 2014 All-Ireland final goal heroines Rhona Ní Bhuachalla and Eimear Scally in the closing quarter, but it was perhaps too late.
Cork face Meath in the All-Ireland qualifiers on the August Bank Holiday weekend, but must improve drastically on Saturday’s performance if they are to remain in the hunt for the Brendan Martin Cup.
Meanwhile, Waterford claimed their seventh Munster Intermediate Championship title in the curtain-raiser, defeating Clare 1-14 to 2-7, with captain Linda Wall lifting the trophy for the Déise.
L Ní Mhuirceartaigh (1-5); S Houlihan (0-5, 2 frees); M O’Connell (1-1); B Breen and P Dennehy (0-1 each).
A Walsh and A Hutchings (1-0 each); V Mulcahy (0-2, 1 free); G O’Flynn and E Farmer (0-1 each).
E Murphy; G Crowley, A Desmond, A Leonard; M Quirke, C Lynch (C), C Kelly; B Breen, E Sherwood; D Hallissey, L Ní Mhuirceartaigh, S Houlihan; P Dennehy, L Scanlon, M O’Connell.
L Rodgers for P Dennehy (46), A Brosnan for E Sherwood (57).
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; E Farmer, V Mulcahy, O Finn.
D O’Reilly for E Farmer and R Ni Bhuachalla for A Hutchings (43), E Scally for A Walsh and A T O’Sullivan for R Buckley (50), G Kearney for V Mulcahy (55).
J Mullins (Limerick)