Fintan O’Toole reports from Páirc Uí Chaoimh
KERRY’S STRANGLEHOLD ON Munster football continues but only after a major second-half examination tonight as Cork pushed the champions to the wire.
Kerry shipped three goals, saw Cork draw level and lost marquee forward Paul Geaney to a red card in the 54th minute. But their 14 men showed the necessary poise and accuracy in the closing stages with the Kenmare duo of Sean O’Shea and Stephen O’Brien landing vital points, along with substitute Micheál Burns.
The match exploded into life after interval, Cork piercing the Kerry cover for a pair of goals in the space of a ten minute window. Midfielder Killian O’Hanlon charged through the cover before being hauled down and Luke Connolly banged home the resultant penalty with conviction in the 38th minute.
Then Brian Hurley got in on the act for Cork, flicking home a looping delivery from Ian Maguire after Shane Ryan had approached to leave the Kerry goalmouth unattended. Suddenly Cork were level with 47 minutes on the clock, 1-12 to 3-6, and the locals in a sparsely populated Páirc Uí Chaoimh found their voice.
However Cork could never quite forge ahead on the scoreboard and Kerry were able to stave off the drive of a home team that were vastly improved on their meek showing at this stage last summer.
Cork looked for a solid start to settle them into the game, instead there was the sight of Kerry crashing the ball to their net in the 6th minute. Sean O’Shea careered into a channel of space and offloaded to Tom O’Sullivan who smashed his shot past goalkeeper Mark White. That put Kerry in front 1-2 to 0-0, by the 13th minute the advantage had swelled to 1-5 to 0-1.
It looked precarious for Cork yet they managed to generate plenty of attacks for the remainder of the half. The problem was not creating chances, it was converting them. Ruairi Deane saw one effort cannon off the body of Shane Ryan, Tadhg Morley made a desperate lunge to deny Mark Collins at another stage.
In the 19th minute they did raise a green flag, a chaotic passage of play saw the ball ping around the goalmouth before Deane flicked into the path of Connolly who palmed home. It proved to be Cork’s only effort from play in the half with a quartet of frees from Collins supplying their other scores.
Kerry retired at the break with an advantage of 1-10 to 1-4 and could easily have bumped up those scoring totals. Gavin White’s lung-bursting run down the heart of the Cork rearguard culminated in a shot drilled straight at Mark White. Cork endured a few another nervy moments before clearing their lines.
Trailing by six at the break meant Cork were still in contention and they made a forceful push to haul Kerry back in the second half. Ultimately the attacking class of Peter Keane’s charges told, Clifford a perfect focal point in the frantic finale and O’Brien claimed the man-of-the-match honour as he helped propel Kerry into the Super 8s.
Scorers for Kerry: Sean O’Shea 0-8 (0-6f), David Clifford 0-4 (0-1f), Tom O’Sullivan 1-1, Stephen O’Brien 0-2, Diarmuid O’Connor, Paul Geaney, Dara Moynihan, Micheál Burns 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: Mark Collins 0-8 (0-6f), Luke Connolly 2-0, Brian Hurley 1-0, James Loughrey, Sean White 0-1 each.
1. Shane Ryan (Rathmore)
2. Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue)
3. Tadhg Morley (Templenoe)
5. Paul Murphy (Rathmore)
7. Gavin White (Dr Crokes)
6. Jack Sherwood (Firies)
4. Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle)
8. David Moran (Kerins O’Rahillys)
9. Jack Barry (Na Gaeil)
15. Dara Moynihan (Spa Killarney)
11. Sean O’Shea (Kenmare)
10. Diarmaid O’Connor (Na Gaeil)
13. David Clifford (Fossa)
14. Paul Geaney (Dingle)
12. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare)
17. Gavin Crowley (Templenoe) for Foley (42)
23. Micheal Burns (Dr Crokes) for Moynihan (50)
18. Adrian Spillane (Templenoe) for Barry (53)
22. Briain Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht) for O’Connor (65)
19. Mark Griffin (St Michael’s-Foilmore) for Tom O’Sullivan (67)
1. Mark White (Clonakilty)
2. Nathan Walsh (Douglas)
3. James Loughrey (Mallow)
4. Kevin Flahive (Douglas)
5. Liam O’Donovan (Clonakilty)
22. Tomás Clancy (Fermoy)
7. Mattie Taylor (Mallow)
8. Ian Maguire (St Finbarr’s- captain)
9. Killian O’Hanlon (Kilshannig)
10. Paul Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers)
6. Sean White (Clonakilty)
11. Ruairi Deane (Bantry Blues)
13. Mark Collins (Castlehaven)
14. Brian Hurley (Castlehaven)
26. Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers)
17. Kevin O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers) for Walsh (inj) (36)
12. Kevin O’Driscoll (Tadgh MacCarthaigh) for Sean White (58)
25. Michael Hurley (Castlehaven) for Hurley (58)
15. Stephen Sherlock (St Finbarr’s) for Connolly (65)
19. Aidan Browne (Newmarket) for Taylor (67)
20. Stephen Cronin (Nemo Rangers) for Loughrey (68)
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)
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