David Clifford the Kerry hero in defeat of Cork

Kerry 2-17 Cork 1-10: We’ve been here before, you know. Just a month and a half ago, to be precise.

On that occasion, a much-talked about Kerry U21 team travelled to Páirc Uí Rinn and won back the Munster U21 crown with 16-points to spare. The Kingdom minors were the visitors to the Boreenmanna Road venue yesterday evening and while the winning margin wasn’t quite as substantial here, the performance, which keeps alive the county’s bid for a fifth consecutive Munster title and a four-in-a-row of All-Irelands, was no less impressive.

For Cork, failure to deal with the threat of David Clifford meant their challenge had unravelled well before this Munster semi-final entered the final quarter. Management opted to go with an orthodox formation and while they can’t be faulted for wanting to go toe-to-toe with Peter Keane’s side, deploying a sweeper should have been heavily considered when Clifford brought his tally to 1-2. By this juncture, just seven minutes had run on the clock.

As it was, no change came to the Cork shape and the full-forward from Fossa spent the rest of the hour leading the home defence on a merry dance. He finished with 2-8, just 0-3 of that total arriving via the dead ball.

For all that, it was the hosts who enjoyed the dream start, Evan Murphy thumping the ball into the Kerry net 10 seconds in. Mark Keane, by some distance Cork’s most imposing figure, grabbed the throw-in and tore through the opposition rearguard before threading possession into the unmarked Murphy. It was to prove a false dawn, however, as the home side failed to add to their tally during the subsequent quarter of an hour. The visitors kicked 1-6 on the bounce in this spell as Clifford and Donal O’Sullivan, responsible for 1-4 of this burst, announced their arrival.

Damien Gore landed Cork’s opening point, but the Rebel forwards were finding the going extremely tough. Colm O’Callaghan, Cathal O’Mahony and Mark Cronin were all stripped of possession at various junctures as Peter Keane’s defence hunted in packs of three and four. Typifying their relentless harrying was half-forward Adam O’Donoghue who forced a Cork turnover deep inside his own half midway through the first period.

Corner-back Cian Gammell and Brien Friel both raised white flags either side of a Damien Gore brace, but the gap was stretched out to eight points on 26 minutes as Clifford finished a sweeping move down the stand side involving Friel and Fiachra Clifford.

The interval scoreline read 2-9 to 1-5 and could have been a tad more manageable from a Cork perspective had two scoreable chances not been kicked wide.

Sub Cillian Myers Murray, who’d finish with three points, drew first blood for the hosts upon the resumption, but a comeback never materialised. Or, more pertinently, wasn’t allowed materialise.

Two from David Clifford and Donnchadh O’Sullivan’s first moved the winners into a double scores lead, 2-12 to 1-6. And it was game over when Kerry ‘keeper Deividas Uosis got down low to his left to keep out a Gore penalty on 42 minutes. He made a second superb save later on, this time denying Mark Keane.

Two more from Clifford and a Jack Griffin point completed the 10-point rout. They’ll face Clare in the Munster decider, a team who they swatted aside with 13-points to spare when they met last month.

Scorers for Kerry:

D Clifford (2-8, 0-3 frees); Donal O’Sullivan (0-1 free), Donnchadh O’Sullivan (0-2 each); A Donoghue, B Friel, F Clifford, C Gammell, J Griffin (0-1 each).

Scorers for Cork:

E Murphy (1-2, 0-1 ’45); D Gore (0-4, 0-2 frees); C Myers Murray (0-3); M Keane (0-1).

KERRY:

D Uosis (Dingle); R O’Neill (Na Gaeil), C O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), M Potts (Dr Crokes); C Gammell (Legion), E Horan (Scartaglen), N Donohue (Firies); B Mahony (St Senan’s), D O’Connor (Na Gaeil); A Donoghue (Castleisland Desmonds), B Friel (Rathmore), F Clifford (Laune Rangers); Donnchadh O’Sullivan (Firies), D Clifford (Fossa), Donal O’Sullivan (Kilgarvan).

Subs:

J Griffin (Dr Crokes) for Friel (38); M Slattery (Austin Stacks) for Donnchadh O’Sullivan (47); C O’Reilly (Austin Stacks) for F Clifford (48); P Warren (Gneeveguilla) for Donal O’Sullivan (55); S O’Leary (Kilcummin) for O’Neill (59); M O’Leary (Renard) for Gammell (60).

CORK:

K McMahon (Kilshannig); L Finn (Mitchelstown), W Ronan (Kilmurry), D Ward (Douglas); J Harrington (Adrigole), P O’Driscoll (Ilen Rovers), J McCarthy (Carrigaline); M Keane (Mitchelstown), R Walsh (Kanturk); E Murphy (Dromtariffe), C O’Callaghan (Éire Óg), J Murphy (Éire Óg); M Cronin (Nemo Rangers), D Gore (Kilmacabea), C O’Mahony (Mitchelstown).

Subs:

C Myers Murray (St Finbarr’s) for O’Mahony (22 mins, inj); C Barrett (St Finbarr’s) for Murphy (HT); D O’Mahony (Knocknagree) for Ronan (39); S Hickey (Millstreet) for Walsh, S Meehan (Kiskeam) for McCarthy (both 42); R O’Driscoll (Garnish) for Harrington (45, bc).

Referee:

A Kissane (Waterford).


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