Kerry 0-16 Cork 1-9
Tadhg Kennelly realised his dream of becoming the first man to win an AFL Premiership and an All-Ireland football medal as Kerry won their 36th title with a four-point win over Munster rivals Cork today.
A season that had the pundits writing the sporting obituary of this great Kingdom side finally came full circle as the Sam Maguire Cup was collected for the fifth time this decade.
In front of 82,286 spectators at Croke Park, Jack O’Connor’s side recovered from a shaky start which saw them fall five points behind.
Kennelly, along with Tommy Walsh, Declan O’Sullivan, Paul Galvin, Tom O’Sullivan and Tomas O Sé, played a major role in destroying the Rebel dream.
Cork made an electrifying start, racing into a 1-3 to 0-1 lead inside the opening 10 minutes, but once Kerry settled into a smooth rhythm, the Rebels were chasing green and gold shadows for the remainder of the first half.
Early points from Donnacha O’Connor, Paddy Kelly and Colm O’Neill had Rebel supporters in fine voice, and when O’Neill blasted home a brilliant 10th-minute goal, they were five ahead.
But Kerry got a hold of the midfield battle, and suffocated their opponents out of the game, playing some delightful football in the process.
Tadhg Kennelly, who succeeded in preventing Graham Canty from making his trademark surges forward, knocked over a couple of points, and Colm Cooper converted five frees.
With Paul Galvin getting through an immense amount of work and Declan O’Sullivan conducting the Kingdom orchestra with his perceptive playmaking, the Rebels were in deep trouble.
Tommy Walsh as target man represented another dimension to Kerry’s varied attacking strategy, and floated over a couple of points as Cork’s early promise continued to disintegrate.
Nevertheless, Cork trailed by just two points at the interval, after Daniel Goulding ended their scoring famine with a couple of late points.
Kerry led by 0-11 to 1-6 at the halfway stage, and benefited from some poor Cork shooting during a period of dominance in the second half.
Daniel Goulding was denied by goalkeeper Diarmuid Murphy when he cut inside to unleash an angled shot at goal.
It took them 15 minutes to get their first score of the second half, an O’Connor free, but by that time, Cooper and Darran O’Sullivan had stretched Kerry’s lead.
Alan O’Connor and Nicholas Murphy were now giving Cork a significant presence in midfield, and two Daniel Goulding scores narrowed the gap to a single point.
Inevitably, Kerry sensed the danger, and the response was emphatic. Tommy Walsh strode eth stage with authority, and lofted a couple of superb points, before Cooper showed his creative side to send wing back Tomas O Se in for his second of the afternoon.
At the back, Tommy Griffin, Marc O Sé and Tom O’Sullivan were rock solid and totally dependable, and a glowing confidence oozed through the entire team.
As Cork desperately battled to get themselves back into the game, they were confronted with a swarm defence, and the sight of Mike McCarthy and Tomas O Sé emerging with the ball after possession had been overturned was the prelude to another triumphant climax for the Kingdom of Kerry and its people.
Kerry: D Murphy, M O Se, T Griffin, T O'Sullivan, T O Se (0-2), M McCarthy, K Young, D O Se, S Scanlon, P Galvin, Declan O'Sullivan (0-1), T Kennelly (0-2), C Cooper (0-6, 6f), T Walsh (0-4), Darran O'Sullivan (0-1).
Subs: D Walsh for Kennelly (51), M Quirke for D O Se (56), K Donaghy for Darran O’Sullivan (56), D Moran for T Walsh (67), A O’Mahony for Young (69).
Cork: A Quirke, K O’Connor, M Shields, A Lynch, J Miskella, G Canty, N O'Leary, A O'Connor, N Murphy, P Kelly (0-1), P O'Neill, P Kerrigan, D Goulding (0-4, 2f), C O'Neill (1-1), D O'Connor (0-3, 3f).
Subs: E Cadogan for K O’Connor (h-t), F Goold for Kerrigan (49), D Kavanagh for Lynch (57), J Masters for Goulding (62), M Cussen for A O’Connor (65)
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).