Kerry 3-14 Cork 2-13
A 66th minute Colm Cooper goal, and the dismissal of Derek Kavanagh for Cork two minutes later, were the key-factors in ensuring Kerry’s three-in-a-row All-Ireland aspirations were kept on track, following their four-point replay victory in this afternoon’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final at Croke Park.
The sides were level at 2-12 apiece with five minutes remaining, after Cork produced a glimmer of last weekend’s clash between the sides, with the Kingdom looking likely winners..
Kerry led by double scores on a 2-12 to 1-6 score-line in the 50th minute but amazingly Pat O’Shea’s charges could have hardly believed that they would only add 1-2 to their tally, with all three of those scores coming in the closing four minutes.
The beaten Munster finalists looked sharpest in the opening stages of this game and led by 0-2 to 0-0 after nine minutes, with Colm Cooper and Tommy Walsh on target.
Cork began nervously kicking five wides in as many minutes, while an eighth minute effort, when Graham Canty placed Michael Cussen was hit wide by the Rebel’s six foot five target man.
However, the Rebels suddenly found their groove with Donnacha O’Connor breaking the deadlock with a tenth-minute fisted point, which was added to by a Daniel Goulding free to level the contest on 14 minutes.
But Kerry broke free again – three points in succession, with a Seamus Scanlon score and a Cooper brace propelling their side to a 0-5 to 0-2 lead on 19 minutes.
Donncha O’Connor edged into the Kingdom led following a foul on Noel O’Leary, but confidently Kerry produced the first goal of the game on 24 minutes, as Tommy Walsh fended off the challenge of a resilient Diarmuid Duggan and cut through to finish past Alan Quirke with his left-footed effort.
Kerry continued to build before the interval with two points in succession from Cooper to bring his account to five, but Kerry weren’t out of the blocks just yet as in the second minute of injury-time, the Kingdom were hit for a goal as Cork cut the gap to five-points before the break.
Daniel Goulding was the goal poacher as John Hayes placed the Éire Óg clubman, who rounded defender Tom O’Sullivan and rifled the ball to the back of the Kerry net, to leave the half-time score 1-8 to 1-3 in Kerry’s favour.
But if Cork’s finish to the second half was sublime, Kerry were keen to make amends, and cancelled out Goulding’s score 26 seconds after the restart, following good combined play between Declan O’Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy, before O’Sullivan punished Cork goalkeeper Alan Quirke from the edge of the square.
Tommy Walsh and Donncha O’Connor traded points, before scores from O’Connor and Goulding for Cork cut the gap to seven-points by the 42nd minute.
The introduction of James Masters to the Rebels attack certainly livened up the game, with both sides evenly matched in a six-minute spell as they continued to trade scores.
However Kerry fired from all angles again as Tomás Ó Sé and Eoin Brosnan added scores to open up a nine-point gap with 20 minutes remaining.
Conor Counihan’s side have been making a habit of late finishes in Championship 2008, and producing strong second-half displays and this game was no different.
A John Miskella fisted point lead the comeback as the Rebels turned a nine-point deficit to level the game within a 15-minute spell.
Pearse O’Neill on target for a 63rd minute goal to cut the gap to a point as he cleanly finished past Diarmuid Murphy, with top-scorer O’Connor levelling the tie two minutes later following his fourth point of the game.
However, a well-placed Colm Cooper goal propelled the Kingdom back into the lead, following good work by second-half substitutes Darren O’Sullivan and David Moran – Kerry back in front as they finished out the game, to book a spot in their fifth final in succession.
Cork: A Quirke; D Duggan, D Kavanagh, A Lynch; J Miskella (0-1), G Canty, N O'Leary, P O' Neill, N Murphy; S O'Brien, D O'Connor (0-4, 2f), K McMahon; D Goulding (1-7, 5f), M Cussen, J Hayes. Subs: M Shields for Duggan (29); F Gould for O’Brien (HT); J Masters (0-1) for McMahon (42); P Kerrigan (0-1) for Hayes (49)
Kerry: D Murphy; M Ó Sé, T Griffin, T O'Sullivan; T Ó Sé (0-1), A O'Mahony, K Young; E Brosnan (0-1), S Scanlon (0-2); B Sheehan, C Cooper (1-8, 6f), D Walsh; D O'Sullivan (1-0), K Donaghy, T Walsh (1-2). Subs: D O’Sullivan for Quirke (50); D Moran for Brosnan (65); D Bohan for T Walsh (72); M Quirke for Donaghy (72)
REFEREE: Jimmy White (Donegal)