Cork conjure another master class
GAELIC GAMES:EXCELLENCE MARCHES to its own beat. Cork strolled out of Croke Park last night with yet another All-Ireland – their seventh in eight years – after tucking Kerry away with barely a murmur of fuss. It was relentless and it was merciless, the calling card of team that finds the distance between itself and the rest these days measured in furlongs rather than lengths. The final score was 0-16 to 0-7 but it could have been anything they pleased.
They’re a phenomenon. You’d call their hold over the women’s game dominance if that stop hadn’t been passed a long time ago. This is more like emasculation. Eleven of their starting team yesterday have been present for all seven All-Ireland victories and a 12th, Angela Walsh, came off the bench. It will end one day as all things must but for here and for now, they are untouchable.
“It was difficult enough coming in as raging hot favourites,” said manager Eamonn Ryan afterwards. “Everyone was saying we would win by this or that. The bookies’ odds were astronomical and that put fierce pressure on us. I was never so nervous before a match in my life. I even lost all my notes. I had to bluff away before the match. The players didn’t know what I was saying.
“We never put the emphasis on medals. The emphasis is on playing and training and enjoying it. The players try to improve a little bit all the time. To put your finger on it, they love playing football and they like winning. If it was the other way around they could be in trouble but their love of football transcends the desire to win the whole time. They would be out there on nights that you wouldn’t put a dog out in but you never get a dopey excuse about missing training.”
Kerry’s young team did their best to contain them here, getting players behind the ball from the off. It worked reasonably well for a while, with only a point between the sides after 15 minutes. But the further the game went on, the clearer it became that they were the wax and Cork were the wick.
The defending champions were 0-10 to 0-3 up at the break and the gap was never smaller than six points after that. Led from the back by Bríd Stack and a pair of outstanding wing backs in Briege Corkery and Geraldine O’Flynn, they pushed and picked at Kerry’s massed defence and drew a huge amount of frees along the way.