Cork 3-11 Kerry 0-9
Cork completed an astonishing 25-point turnaround to retain their Munster minor football title at Pairc Ui Rinn on Wednesday evening.
Three weeks ago they lost to Kerry by 14 points, but they tore the formbook to shreds with a brilliant display when it mattered most. Despite conceding the opening score after just 20 seconds, Cork settled into their task immediately.
The sides were level on three occasions in the opening 10 minutes with all the early scores coming from play. Cork though took a firm grip on proceedings as they pounced for 1-6 without response in a devastating 11 minute burst as Kerry endured 17 scoreless minutes.
Brian Hayes started the sequence with a well taken free bordering the right touchline, and he added two more to make it 0-6 to 0-3 after 18 minutes, before captain Colm Gillespie kicked a thunderous point from distance to extend the home team’s lead further.
Dynamic wing-back Darragh O’Donovan stretched the advantage with an excellent point and then a bit of luck fell their way for the critical goal after 25 minutes.
Gillespie’s long-range attempt struck the post and was gathered by the tenacious Hayes, who tucked away his effort with confidence.
Cork had to pinch themselves at 1-8 to 0-3 in front as Kerry eventually broke their duck from play with a Darren Allman score three minutes from the interval - though Olan O’Donovan quickly cancelled it out to help Cork into a 1-9 to 0-5 lead at half-time.
The second half didn’t begin much better for the Kingdom, as they lost centre-back Darragh O’Connor to a straight red card after an off the ball incident involving Gillespie.
A couple of pointed frees cut the margin to six points, but Cork put the game to bed in spectacular fashion, slicing the Kerry defence to shreds to smack in two brilliant goals in quick succession.
The first came at the start of the fourth quarter as the outstanding Alan O’Connor showed great pace and control to unleash an unstoppable shot to the net, making it 2-10 to 0-7.
And within a minute Cork tore through for a third goal. The industrious Gearoid Kearney did the spadework for Hayes to claim his second with another decisive finish. The victory seals a 30th title for the Rebels.
Cork: J Woods; M O’Sullivan, C Molloy, T O’Brien; D O’Donovan (0-1), G Daly, A Cullinane; C Geary, C Gillespie (0-2); M Kelleher, E Myers (0-2, one free), A O’Connell (1-2); B Hayes (2-3, two frees), G Kearney, O O’Donovan (0-1). Subs: K McCarthy for T O’Brien (39 mins), A O’Sullivan for M Kelleher (40), N O’Leary for C Geary (40), J Burke for A Cullinane (50), B O’Sullivan for O O’Donovan (54).
Kerry: S O’Meara; M Lynch, L Evans, J Foley; E Healy, D O’Connor (0-1), F Murphy; J O’Sullivan (0-1), T Ashe; N Collins, C Dillon (0-3 frees), J Clifford; P Lane (0-1), D O’Sullivan, D Allman (0-1). Subs: I O’Sullivan (0-1) for D Allman (half-time), D O’Connor for T Ashe (40 mins), E Boyle for P Lane (50), J Burke for J Clifford (57), P Moynihan for J O’Sullivan (57).
Referee: Niall Quinn (Clare).