It was the Rebels’ second game of the weekend, having overcome UCC in the Canon O’Brien Cup challenge game the previous day, and selector Pat Ryan was reasonably happy with their weekend.
“What we’re trying to do is find players, and we had a couple of good performances today. Certainly, I thought Cian Buckley showed up well, for instance. We’re looking for players that weren’t there last year but who could make a difference this year. It’s working out well, everyone’s showing their hand.
“We had two wins, a lot of fellas have played well. I thought Kerry did well, brought a lot of intensity to it and tried very hard.”
Cork started Conor Lehane instead of Brian Lawton yesterday, and the Midleton man lit up the early proceedings with three points, one from a free. As expected, the home side were sharper, running up a 0-5 to 0-0 score in the opening 10 minutes.
When Kerry settled, they had Michael O’Leary’s industry to thank. The full-forward was playing a withdrawn role, giving Cork a numerical advantage in the full-back line, but his brace and two Shane Nolan frees got them back in the game. Unfortunately for Kerry, however, a Luke O’Farrell goal for Cork on 11 minutes split those scores, which meant it was 1-6 to 0-6 at the end of the first quarter.
With Lehane and Dean Brosnan seeing plenty of the ball in midfield, Cork dominated for 10 minutes, hitting four points — Brian Moylan, Brosnan (two) and Lehane — but Kerry impressed before half-time. A point by Colm Harty was augmented by two Nolan frees, leaving the score 1-11 to 0-9 at the half, and Kerry in the hunt.
Kerry kept pace with Cork early in the second-half, the sides going point for point, but two points by Seamus Harnedy and an Alan Cadogan effort pushed Cork 1-18 to 0-14 ahead at the three-quarter mark. Colm Harty and Michael O’Leary had points before sub Mikey Boyle won a penalty for Kerry. It was the Kingdom’s chance to spring a surprise, but Cork ‘keeper Declan Dalton saved Shane Nolan’s effort comfortably.
Cork were never troubled afterwards, though there was one more twist when, with with three minutes left, Cadogan and Darren Dineen saw straight reds after a brief flare-up in the Kerry goal.
“We’re not too sure what happened,” said Ryan later.
“We thought it was a free first of all, that the goalkeeper came out with his feet up, leading with his feet, and that Alan was fouled, but I don’t think there was much in it. A bit harsh, maybe, to see the two lads sent off.”
Ryan moved swiftly to reassure Cork supporters in the 748-strong crowd concerned by Conor Lehane’s removal from proceedings late on and also detailed other of Saturday’s injury issues: “Just a bit of cramp, it was Conor’s first game in a long while, it was just a precaution.
“Daniel (Kearney) has a laceration in his hand, just where his finger meets his palm. It was very innocuous, he went in with this palm open and collided with Colm Spillane, but he got eight stitches on Saturday night and some cosmetic surgery on it.
You’re probably talking about six to eight weeks, but we’re positive about it and it’s certainly not as bad as we thought first.
“Paul Haughney showed up well on Saturday, he’s athletic, very fit for this time of year Cian McCarthy is a week and a half away from returning from injury, while Patrick Horgan might play against Limerick. Stephen McDonnell is on holidays.
“Aidan Walsh had a slight hamstring so we didn’t play him but he should be available for the weekend.”
Cork face a busy week ahead, said Ryan: “We’re out on Wednesday night against Waterford and Limerick next Sunday, so they’re two big games for us.
“There are a few lads playing Fitzgibbon and we have an agreement with UCC and CIT about them regarding access, so they can prepare well for the Fitzgibbon.”
C. Lehane (0-6, 2 frees), L. O’Farrell (1-3); S. Harnedy (0-4, 2 frees); B. Moylan (1 free), D. Brosnan, A. Cadogan (0-2 each); C. O’Leary (0-1).
S. Nolan (frees), M. O’Leary (0-5); C. Harty (0-3); P. Lucid (0-2); B. O’Leary, J. Conway, J. Goulding (0-1 each).
D. Dalton, C. Buckley, C. Barry, D. Browne, M. O’Keeffe, D. Cahalane, B. Moylan, C. Lehane, D. Brosnan, C. Cormack, S. Harnedy, P. O’Rourke, T. O’Mahony, L. O’Farrell, C. O’Leary.
A. Cadogan for O’Leary, C. O’Sullivan for Browne (HT); A. Dennehy for O’Keeffe, W. Leahy for O’Mahony (47); L. Meade for Lehane (63).
M. Stackpoole, S. Weir, B. Murphy, D. Fitzelle, D. Collins ( c), D. Dineen, J. Diggins, P. O’Connor, P. Lucid, C. Harty, B. O’Leary, S. Nolan, K. Carmody, M. O’Leary, J. Conway.
J. O’Connor for P. O’Connor, M. Boyle for Carmody (46); T. Murnane for Fitzelle (56); J. Goulding for Nolan (63).
R. McGann (Clare).