Cork manager Ronan McCarthy lamented his team’s second-quarter wastefulness as a key turning point in this Munster final wipeout.
Four ahead at the water break, the visitors were outscored by 1-8 to 0-2 from there to half-time to return to the dressing-room five in arrears.
But far from one-way traffic was the action in that second quarter, Cork squandering a handful of scoring opportunities. Indeed, following Brian Ó Beaglaoich’s 32nd-minute goal to shove Kerry three in front, Cork missed three successive point-scoring chances. Luke Connolly and Brian Hartnett both kicked wide, with John O’Rourke hitting the post.
In total, Cork tallied seven first-half wides and twice hit the post.
“We had no pressure really at any point on their kick-out, so even when we were scoring, they were getting the ball out fairly easily, and I’d be very disappointed with that,” said McCarthy as he began sifting through where exactly Cork lost their way.
“We should have had four or five more points on the board coming up to half-time. Instead of actually putting scores on the board at our end, we ended up conceding down at the other end. That’s what happens at this level, you turn the ball over around the 45 and middle of the field, you are going to pay for it.
“We were five down at half-time, I don’t think it would have flattered us to be drawing or maybe a point behind. Against a team like Kerry you are in a difficult position then because you have to come after the game, if you can, leaving yourself open at the back. You saw that they put men behind the ball, hit us on the counter-attack, did it really well, and obviously, the second half was a big struggle for us.”
The 22-point end margin represented Kerry’s largest ever Munster final victory over Cork in Killarney.
When asked how damaging the result was to Cork football, McCarthy didn’t go any deeper than to say the 4-22 to 1-9 hammering was “a setback”.
“They are the type of team, and they have done it here in the league as well, you let them get ahead of you and there’s no better team to open you up. They like to play with flair and abandon and you can do that when you’re 10 points up. They are probably the best in the business at that, so it’s a game you have to stay in and keep tight and we didn’t do that.
“We can feel sorry for ourselves or we can dust ourselves down. They obviously go back to their clubs now and we have a fairly busy club programme ahead of us. You can feel sorry for yourself or go and do something about it, and that’s up to the lads what they want to do.”
Despite the concession of 4-22, 4-18 of which came from play, McCarthy had nothing but praise for his defence, particularly Sean Meehan who held David Clifford scoreless from play.
“We defended really well in the first quarter. Young Meehan was outstanding in the corner and he has to get an All-Star out of that, he was just absolutely unbelievable throughout the game.
“Flahive, Kevin O’Donovan, all defended really well, but the problem here is when you start giving the ball away up front, they are coming at you in waves. They have real quality and can hurt teams, and that happened. So I would be disappointed in how we gave the ball away in the second quarter. We were in control, we had to keep the game tight, and we didn’t.”
The manager confirmed that the switch of goalkeeper at half-time, with Mark White coming in for Micheál Martin, was injury-enforced. Martin sported strapping on his right shoulder as he took his place in the stand for the second period.