Cork manager Sean Hayes heralded the character of his players for the manner in which they responded to a flurry of late Kerry scores.
Having opened up a two-point advantage following Sean White’s goal on 46 minutes, Cork conceded three of the next four scores to allow Kerry back on a level footing one minute into second-half stoppage time.
“Kerry came back, went ahead, we came back and won. You couldn’t fault the effort of the lads,” said a delighted Hayes. “Cian [Dorgan] got a big score to win it. He is a good scorer and he has proven that with Ballincollig.
“When we didn’t have the ball, we did very well. I know we conceded 1-14, but we defended well. Kerry are a good team. They have won minor for the last two years. It was good to come out on top.”
Hayes, though, didn’t feel that Cork should have been sweating to the extent they were at the death.
“We brought them back into the game at stages, which nearly came back to haunt us, but thankfully, we got over the line.
“We played well and we showed character, but I thought we lost balls that we shouldn’t have lost. We missed scores that we should have scored. There is room for improvement for Saturday week.”
He continued: “We saw Limerick run at them and it was definitely a kind of weakness. We could have possibly got another goal. We lost the advantage we had at half-time in the second-half.
“We kept going, though, and once we got the ball to our forwards inside, we were always a danger. Peter Kelleher was very strong in there, we just didn’t give him enough ball.”
Kerry manager Jack O’Connor, meanwhile, pointed to Cork’s third goal as the contest’s defining score.
“We are hugely disappointed because we put a massive effort into it. All the management and players put a huge effort in. On the night, we conceded three goals and that is just not good enough. We kicked 1-14, which is no bad scoring on a blustery night, but the third goal killed us.
“We had fought back really, really well after half-time. We faced an uphill struggle at half-time. We were down and facing a gale of wind. We promised each other at half-time that we would leave it all on the pitch and we did. But after coming back and going two up, the third goal was really the turning point.”
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