Cork collected the McGrath Cup yesterday with a four-point win over Kerry in Mallow, a determined second-half display and a good John Hayes goal the key to their first silverware of 2014.
A wasteful Kerry attack let plenty of scores behind them in the first-half, and once Cork rearranged their half-back line at the break they had the platform to drive them to victory, though both managers left north Cork with plenty to work on.
Kerry started well, with a Bryan Sheehan free and three wides before Donnchadh Walsh chipped in with their second point. The visitors dominated around the middle and David Moran inparticular was able to pick out his man with foot passes, pressurising the Cork defence.
Sheehan landed a 45 on 10 minutes to make it three points before Aidan Walsh got Cork off the mark with a fine point. Kerry continued to dominate, however, with Cork finding it hard to get into the opposition half.
Kerry came close to goaling at the end of the first quarter when a Barry John Keane effort was deflected just past Bryan Sheehan’s outstretched toe with the goal gaping, but the score remained 0-3 to 0-1 until the 23rd minute, when Daniel Goulding blasted over with a goal on offer.
Three minutes later Barry John Keane almost got the game’s opening goal, flicking over from close range after good interplay between Paul Geaney and Alan Fitzgerald. Kerrigan responded and then Goulding pointed a free from beyond the Kerry 45: four points apiece on the half-hour.
Kerry should really have goaled a minute later, but Cork ’keeper Ken O’Halloran did well to smother Donnchadh Walsh at point-blank range: Sheehan missed the resulting 45, but there was still time for Keane to point neatly to restore Kerry’s lead – 0-5 to 0-4 at the break, but the Kingdom should have been much further in front given the opportunities spurned.
Cork were much better on the resumption, with Michael Shields at wing-back, James Loughrey at centre-back and Aidan Walsh more influential in midfield. A Mark Collins free and a fine Kerrigan point from play put them one ahead, and then Shields ranged upfield to boot over a point from long range.
Kerry had to wait 13 minutes for their first score, a good Jonathan Lyne effort after a fine run, but Cork struck decisively – a long Aidan Walsh delivery broke to sub John Hayes, who bore down on goal and netted from close range: 1-7 to 0-6 at the three-quarter stage.
A good Goulding point promptly stretched the lead further, and when the same man popped a free over it was 1-9 to 0-6 with just over 10 minutes left. Sheehan pulled one back with a free and sub Shane O’Callaghan cut the deficit to four with a point of his own.
Andrew O’Sullivan and Jonathan Lyne swapped points before a Keane free made it 1-10 to 0-10 with eight minutes on the clock. There were a few black cards to liven up the proceedings late on, Aidan O’Mahony, Fintan Goold and Michael Shields the men going off early, but Cork held out for a good win, Donncha O’Connor’s late free the insurance point.
Those in the crowd looking for a hint of Cork’s playing style in 2014 saw the Rebels play a more direct game in the second-half, and Shields’ repositioning in the half-back line gave them another attacking option.
For Kerry, Paul Galvin came on to his usual reception from a Cork crowd, but didn’t occupy his usual spot. The Finuge man played in the half-back line and did well, intercepting one Cork attack which looked ominous.
With Aidan O’Mahony, another sub, replacing Bryan Sheehan and playing up front, Cork may not be the only team shaking things up tactically this season.
Scorers for Cork: D. Goulding 0-4 (0-2 fs); J. Hayes 1-0; M. Collins 0-2 (0-1 f); D. O’Connor (f), A. O’Sullivan, M. Shields, A. Walsh and P. Kerrigan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: B. Sheehan (0-2 fs, 0-1 45) and B. J. Keane (0-1 f) 0-3 each; J. Lyne 0-2; D. Walsh, S O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
CORK: K. O’Halloran; J. McLoughlin, E. Cadogan, M. Shields; J. Loughrey, T. Clancy, K. O’Driscoll; A. Walsh, F. Goold; C. O’Driscoll, M. Collins, A. O’Sullivan; D. Goulding, P. Kerrigan, B. O’Driscoll.
Subs: D. O’Connor and J. Hayes for C. O’Driscoll and B. O’Driscoll, 43; M. Sugrue for Collins, 53; B. Hurley for Goulding, 62; M. O Laoghaire for Goold 65 (b c), A. Sheehan for Shields 67 (b c).
KERRY: B. Kelly, P. Murphy, M. Griffin, S. Enright, P. Crowley, J.
Sherwood, M. Geaney, A. Maher, D. Moran, J. Lyne, B. Sheehan, D. Walsh, A. Fitzgerald, P. Geaney, B. J. Keane.
Subs: S. O’Callaghan for Fitzgerald, HT; M. Mangan for Maher, 44; A. O’Mahony and P. Galvin for Sheehan and Sherwood, both 53; B. Maguire for M. Geaney, 62; B. Shanahan for O’Mahony, 64 (b c).
Referee: D. O’Mahony (Tipperary).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved