With the Munster U21 title already safely stored away in the Kingdom, the provincial junior crown was returned to the cabinet yesterday evening. And should they manage a senior and minor double this Sunday, it will be the first time since 1997 Kerry have won all four Munster football titles in the one summer.
This was a remarkable fixture, as is evidenced by the seven goals and 51 scores. The pendulum oscillated wildly throughout, with Cork, early in the second-half, holding a nine-point lead. Kerry, mind you, countered this with a burst of 2-5. And back and forth they went for the remainder of the 80 minutes.
It goes without saying there wasn’t a sweeper or a defensive blanket to be got at Páirc Uí Rinn. This was a refreshingly open game with almost every player keeping to the area in they were selected.
Having finished level at 2-17 apiece at the end of normal time, the two deciding scores arrived within a minute of each other at the end of the first period of extra-time. Ahead by 2-20 to 2-18 on 69 minutes, a breakaway run by Brendan O’Sullivan ended with an offload to Philip O’Connor and the Kerry half-forward delivered his second goal of the evening.
In the ensuing play, Tomás Ó Sé toe-poked home his second green flag following two superb saves by Cork ‘keeper Anthony Casey. Eight clear at the quick turnaround, the second period fizzled out to its inevitable conclusion. Ronan O’Toole struck a consolation goal for Cork but there was to be no denying the visitors a fourth successive Munster title at this grade.
Cork led 1-11 to 0-9 at the interval and this lead was all the more impressive when you consider they found themselves 0-6 to 0-2 behind 14 minutes in. Each member of the Kerry full-forward line – Tomás Ó Sé, Conor Cox and Killian Spillane – had written their name onto the scoresheet by this juncture as both attacks thrived in the absence of extra defensive bodies.
Cork, while creating chances, were letting themselves down with the final product. Kerry ‘keeper Tomás Mac an tSaoir kept out a Seamus Hickey effort on four minutes and he was also equal to Ryan Harkin’s shot two minutes later.
Cork’s first goal arrived on the quarter-hour mark, O’Toole blasting past the Kingdom custodian. Cox posted the Kerry response but of the 11 scores produced between there and half-time, nine fell to Cork. Chief contributor for the Rebels was the excellent Anthony O’Connor. He’d finish with 0-11 to his name.
Eoghan Buckley goaled for the hosts within 27 seconds of the restart and when O’Connor added a free, the scoreboard had them 2-12 to 0-9 in front. There followed the aforementioned 2-5 from Jimmy Keane’s troops, with O’Sé and O’Connor supplying the goals. The 929 present were treated to a most dramatic finish to regulation time with Sean T O’Sullivan nudging Cork into a 2-16 to 2-15 lead on the hour mark. O’Connor and Liam Carey appeared to have won it for Kerry, but Killian O’Hanlon popped up in the third additional minute to force extra-time. Thereafter, it was a familiar tale of Kerry joy and Cork woe.
T Ó Sé (2-4); P O’Connor (2-3); C Cox (0-5, 0-3 frees); L Carey (0-4); J O’Donoghue (0-3, 0-1 free, 0-1 ’45); I Parker (0-2 frees), K Spillane (0-2 each); B O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
A O’Connor (0-11, 0-6 frees); R O’Toole (2-1); E Buckley (1-2); K O’Hanlon (0-3); D O’Regan, ST O’Sullivan, R O’Callaghan (0-1 each).
T Mac an tSaoir (Brosna); E Kiely (Brosna), J McGuire (Listowel Emmets), P Kilkenny (Glenbeigh-Glencar); J Walsh (Knocknagoshel), M Foley (Ballydonoghue), D O’Brien (Glenflesk); R Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht), B O’Sullivan (Valentia); P O’Connor (Cordal), J O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), E Ó Conchúir (An Ghaeltacht); T O Sé (An Ghaeltacht), C Cox (Listowel Emmets), K Spillane (Templenoe).
L Carey (Beaufort) for O’Donoghue (41); I Parker (Churchill) for Cox (58); PJ Mac Laímh (An Ghaeltacht) for Foley (60); B Barrett (Ardfert) for Ó Conchuir (60, bc); E Cronin (Spa) for Spillane (70); DJ Murphy (Gneeveguilla) for Walsh (75); S O’Sullivan (Templenoe) for Carey (77).
A Casey (Kiskeam); K Histon (Cobh), P Murphy (Bandon), P Clancy (Fermoy); D O’Regan (St Vincent’s), B Daly (Newmarket), J Cronin (Lisgoold); M O’Leary (Naomh Abán), R O’Toole (Éire Óg); R Downey (Delanys), K O’Hanlon (Kilshannig), R Harkin (Mallow); E Buckley (St Michael’s), S Hickey (Rockchapel), A O’Connor (Knocknagree).
S T O’Sullivan (Garnish) for Downey (40); L O’Neill (Kanturk) for O’Regan (51); R O’Callaghan (Fermoy) for Hickey (66); M Bradley (Aghabullogue) for ST O’Sullivan (70); D Colfer (Glanworth) for Murphy (77, bc).
S Lonergan (Tipperary).