Kerry dethrone Cork to win Munster U21 title at a canter

Matthew O’Sullivan and Conor Geaney grab a goal each at Páirc uí Rinn

Kerry’s Matthew O’Sullivan celebrates scoring a goal during the EirGrid Munster U21 Football Championship Final against Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Kerry’s Matthew O’Sullivan celebrates scoring a goal during the EirGrid Munster U21 Football Championship Final against Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Kerry 2-16 Cork 0-6

Kerry fully justified their status as hot favourites to replace Cork as Munster Under-21 football champions before an attendance of 3,861 at Páirc Uí Rinn on Wednesday night.

The Kingdom join their great rivals on 26 wins apiece at the top of the roll of honour in the final year of the competition. It was Kerry’s first title since 2008.

Kerry dominated throughout with Andrew Barry lording midfield as Cork struggled on restarts, coming under intense pressure when going short and in the air, too.

Kerry settled immediately and Killian Spillane had them in front after only 15 seconds followed by a Séamus O’Shea free inside the opening minute.

Cork went close to an early goal, when Michael Hurley blasted a super shot off a post as Kerry claimed the opening four points inside six minutes.

The holders found their groove, though, and landed three without response to be just a point adrift after the first quarter.

But, Kerry responded by scoring the first goal after 18 minutes, wing back Briain Ó Beaglaoich setting up full forward Matthew O’Sullivan to blast home from close range.

That deflated Cork, who couldn’t score again in the half with Kerry turning around in full control, leading by 1-6 to 0-3.

It was all one-way traffic on the resumption. Cork went 23 minutes without a score until Gary Murphy pointed a free eight minutes in, but Kerry strolled to the title.

Their second goal after 52 minutes underlined the gulf in class, when Spillane and substitute Jordan Kiely combined for Conor Geaney to finish brilliantly, 2-15 to 0-4.

Kerry finished with 13 players after Kiely and Ó Beaglaoich were black carded, the new champions having used all their substitutes, but it made no difference.

KERRY: S Ryan; TL O’Sullivan, J Foley, B Sugrue (capt); B Ó Beaglaoich, T O’Sullivan (0-1), G White; A Barry, B Ó Seanachain; B Barrett, S O’Shea (0-6, three frees, one 45), M Flaherty; K Spillane (0-5, two frees), M O’Sullivan (1-1), C Bambury (0-1).

Subs: J Morgan for Sugrue (inj, 16 mins), C Geaney (1-2, one free) for Bambury (half-time), M Burns for Barrett (45 mins), B Sullivan for Flaherty (47 mins), C Coffey for T O’Sullivan (bc, 48 mins), J Kiely for M O’Sullivan (51 mins).

CORK: R Donovan; S Daly, J Mullins, S Wilson; J O’Riordan, A Browne, C Kiely; S O’Donoghue (capt) (0-1, free), E Lavers; M Dineen, S Powter, L O’Donovan; G Murphy (0-1, free), B Coakley (0-2, one free), M Hurley.

Subs: D Meaney for Dineen (22 mins), S Sherlock (0-2, both frees) for Lavers (half-time), M Buckley for Murphy, K O’Donovan for Browne (both 41 mins), S O’Donovan for Buckley (47 mins), S O’Leary for Daly (56 mins).

Referee: A Kissane (Waterford)

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