Kerry step on the gas down the stretch to beat Cork by 12 points

Visitors outscore Cork by 0-12 to 0-1 in the closing 20 minutes at Páirc Uí Rinn

Brothers David and Paudie Clifford celebrate a score during Kerry’s win over Cork at Pairc Ui Rinn. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cork 0-11 Kerry 0-23

This was no 12-point game. Kerry were better, no question about it it. But they were made to labour for their win and needed to step on the gas down the stretch to assert their bona fides.

They outscored Cork by 0-12 to 0-1 in the closing 20 minutes, brutalising the Cork kick-out and raining down scores from everywhere when it mattered most.

And yet for long stretches, it was a quietly defiant performance from the home side. Cork’s flaws are obvious enough - they can for penetration and they rarely see a problem that turning around to play a 20-yard pass back the pitch won’t solve. But nonetheless, they were able to conjure up enough tackles and interventions in defence to get the crowd interested and allied this to a day of uncanny accuracy when they did eventually shoot.


It made for a game that Kerry took an age to put manners on. David Clifford and Sean O'Shea were brilliantly-marshalled by Kevin Flahive and Rory Maguire and Seán Powter patrolled the edge of the Cork D with vim and gusto. At the very least it made Cork hard to beat, a rare sight in these games over the past decade.

Even when Kerry did manage to string together a necklace of scores, Cork refused to go away. When Stephen O'Brien, Paudie Clifford and O'Shea wriggled through for a trio of early scores, Stephen Sherlock replied with a monster free from just outside the 45.

Kerry were insistent and pushed on with back-to-back frees by O’Shea but Sherlock matched them from a variety of angles at the other end.

Sherlock has been knocking about the inter-county scene for a few years now without ever making himself indispensable. That will change as long as he keeps kicking like this. His first half display in particular was a masterclass - six shots, six points, every one of them needed.

His frees were unimpeachable but his point from play on 26 minutes after a lovely pirouette and a strike with the outside of the boot was worth the admission fee alone.


It all washed out as a slightly uneasy 0-9 to 0-7 lead for Kerry at half time. Tony Brosnan and the excellent Diarmuid O’Connor added a bit of gloss with late points after Sherlock had levelled on the half hour. But the home crowd still had good reason to cheer Cork off at the break. They clearly had no intention of going away.

And so it went for most of the third quarter. Kerry had their cushion - O’Shea was popping frees with languid regularity. But it looked for a time that they would need every bit of it. Debutant Cathail O’Mahony landed a couple of booming points from out around the 45, Kevin O’Donovan scuttled forward from corner-back to grab one of his own.

The clock ticked onto 50 minutes and Cork were only one behind, 0-11 to 0-10.

Jack O'Connor had seen enough. He made three substitutions in three minutes. Paul Geaney, David Moran, Paul Murphy all onto the pitch, just the 312 senior games for Kerry between them. Geaney immediately sniped a point, creating his own space by sending O'Brien off on a dummy run and flicking the score himself.

Moran immediately dominated midfield, bludgeoning the Cork kick-out and repeatedly sending Gavin White and Diarmuid O’Connor scurrying into Cork territory.

Bit by bit, Kerry eased clear. O’Shea iced a 45 and ticked along with his frees as the Cork tackling got ever more tired. O’Brien and Paudie Clifford whistled over a couple more as the cover fell off. For a 10-minute period, Cork couldn’t get out of their own half - Kerry rattled off seven points in a row and that was that.

CORK: Michéal Martin; Kevin O'Donovan (0-1), Maurice Shanley, Kevin Flahive; John Cooper, Rory Maguire, Mattie Taylor; Ian Maguire, Colm O'Callaghan; Daniel Dineen, Seán Powter, John O'Rourke; Stephen Sherlock (0-6, 0-5 frees), Brian Hurley, Cathail O'Mahony (0-3).

Subs: Dylan Foley for Martin, 24 mins; Eoghan McSweeney (0-1) for Dineen, 56 mins; Damien Gore for Hurley, 59 mins; Tadhg Corkery for Powter, 60 mins; Brian Hayes for O’Rourke, 65 mins.

KERRY: Shane Ryan; Graham O'Sullivaan, Jason Foley, Tom O'Sullivan; Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Tadhg Morley, Gavin White; Diarmuid O'Connor (0-1), Jack Barry; Stephen O'Brien (0-2), Seán O'Shea (0-11, 0-8 frees, 0-1 45), Adrian Spillane; Tony Brosnan (0-1), David Clifford (0-3, 0-2 frees), Paudie Clifford (0-2).

Subs: Paul Geaney (0-2) for Brosnan, 49 mins; David Moran for Spillane, 50 mins; Paul Murphy for Ó Beaglaoich, 52 mins; Micheál Burns (0-1) for O’Brien, 63 mins; Joe O’Connor for Diarmuid O’Connor, 67 mins.

Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times