Cork manager Ronan McCarthy refused to be drawn on the performance of referee Anthony Nolan, remarking that he’d be “better off” holding his counsel where the man in the middle is concerned.
The free count, at the end of this evening’s Munster SFC final, was 27-11 in Kerry’s favour, with Nolan also penalising Cork goalkeeper Mark White, harshly at that, for taking too long to restart the game early in the second-half.
When asked about the free count, the Cork manager replied, “I think I am better off not answering that question. I am certainly better off not answering it now”.
McCarthy also claimed he did not see Stephen O’Brien’s contentious second-half kick, from the South Stand side, which, after much deliberation, was adjudged to have gone over.
“I am not doing an Arséne Wenger on it now, but I didn’t see it so I can’t comment on it,” he said.
Luke Connolly, Rúairí Deane, Mark Collins, and Sean White all failed to put away first-half goal chances, with McCarthy particularly rueful of Collins’ shot which was blocked by Tadhg Morley.
“Mark should have off-loaded it to Brian Hurley who was free. It’s something we are very good at and Mark is very good at actually – picking out the guy in a better position.
"With that said, they had a fairly clear-cut chance with Gavin White at the other end in the first-half. But look, we ultimately came to win the game, we haven’t done that, and there’s a great sense of disappointment in the dressing room.
“You give any top team a seven-point start and you are going to put yourself on the back foot. Obviously, really pleased with the response and the way the team went after the game.
Kerry were on 14 men for the last 10 minutes, now they had a cushion of a lead of three or four points at that stage. So look, hard to know what to make of it really.
For winning manager Peter Keane, a most pleasing aspect of their evening’s work was the manner in which the Kerry players responded to Paul Geaney’s 55th-minute dismissal. The visitors led by 1-14 to 3-6 at that juncture and although James Loughrey would subsequently narrow the gap to the minimum, Kerry kicked the next three points to re-establish a four-point cushion which sustained them to the finish.
“We found that a bit during the league. There were a couple of games which were tight coming near the end but we pushed on and pulled away.
"That is something we were happy with. Now, you don’t want to be losing a man, but we did show great composure.
"They showed great fighting spirit at the end and that was the thing about getting fresh legs on at the end.”
What is of concern, however, is the number of times Cork breached the Kerry cover to create a goal-scoring opportunity.
It was 13 scores to our 20 and you’d think from that that you’d be happy, but just the goal-scoring opportunities, we’ve got to stop them.
"If you look at some of them, particularly in the first-half, they were opportunities that came from us not killing the ball above and Cork had an overlap coming against us. Some of the opportunities that they didn’t get off was because we recovered and got bodies in the way. You would have to praise that part of it too.”
He added: “I always felt this was going to be tight. You mentioned them as a Division 3 team, but if you look at Cork in the latter half of that league, they met some very good teams and had some very good results. I wouldn’t consider them a Division 3 team. If you take out last year, there has been more or less a kick of a ball between Cork and Kerry over the years.
"Last year was just a bit of an anomaly. I said to ye last week that I felt it was going to be a tight game and it was, it was a really good battle.”