Rebels without a cause for optimism as fired-up Kingdom run rampant

Kerry go into demolition mode with biggest championship win over Cork since 1962

Kerry’s Paul Murphy and Paul Kerrigan of Cork clash in an off-the-ball incident during the Munster football final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork, yesterday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kerry’s Paul Murphy and Paul Kerrigan of Cork clash in an off-the-ball incident during the Munster football final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork, yesterday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Kerry 0-24 Cork 0-12 Cork footballers will hardly be chief mourners when Páirc Uí Chaoimh is shortly demolished.

Brian Cuthbert’s team signed off from the old ground with an abject performance that, amongst other things, accommodated a record win for Kerry at the venue, a sequence stretching back to its opening in 1976.

Then again, Kerry – Declan O’Sullivan conducting the orchestra and James O’Donoghue with 10 points, eight from play, again exceptional – were very good as they handed out the hiding and took home a 76th Munster football title.

Faster, quicker, stronger, the defending champions simply overwhelmed the opposition, for whom hardly any players even established parity with their opponents.

Coming into the match as slight underdogs and missing their most influential player, Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side set an early tempo that Cork couldn’t match, and maintained it as their struggling opponents became less and less capable of coping.

The expectation going into yesterday’s Munster final was that Cork’s lively forwards, suitably supplied by a superior looking centrefield, would be able to bank enough to cover whatever their somewhat less- than-imposing defence conceded.

Only the third premise really held. Anthony Maher and Bryan Sheehan, switched from centre forward, had a field day in the middle and apart for the opening 15 minutes, Cork struggled to be competitive anywhere.

Upbeat fashion

Then Paul Kerrigan ran Kerry ragged to set up a chance for Daniel Goulding, who efficiently took his point, and Cork led by two.

Kerry’s response was a sign of what was to come. O’Donoghue, having looked as if the opposing defence had mugged him, somehow conjured the ball back and pointed.

A minute later Johnny Buckley, back in the team after injury and having swapped centrefield with Sheehan for a wing forward spot, kicked the first of four points from play.

By the time Paul Geaney had waltzed in from the left to kick two fine points, the score had gone to 0-6 to 0-3, a double- score margin that simply quadrupled from there to the final whistle.

If three points wasn’t exactly a daunting deficit after the first quarter, the second quarter was a rout. The sequence actually started as early as the seventh minute just after Goulding had put Cork 0-3 to 0-2 ahead. For the next 28 minutes Kerry outscored their drooping opponents by 0-11 to nil.

Their combination play was crisp and constructive and ran Cork ragged. Maher had time in the 34th minute to wheel around the middle of the field picking his shot before placing Geaney for the Dingle player’s third point of the half.

At one stage up to around the half-hour mark, Kerry won six successive Cork kick-outs.

The real damage was being done, however, to the Cork defence. O’Donoghue was wreaking carnage on Michael Shields, a state of affairs that mysteriously endured until around half-way through the second half. However, the first switch, which brought Noel Galvin to bear on the problem, so graphically failed that a third defender, James Loughrey, had to be redeployed.

But for Ken O’Halloran’s intervention in the 27th minute, O’Donoghue would have had a goal to go with his 10 points.

Ultimately all of Kerry’s starting forwards would score from play and Cork’s conventionally unsupplemented defence was virtually powerless to restrain them.

Wipe-out

Brian Hurley, exceptional in the league meeting between the teams, during which he scored seven points from play, was well contained by Shane Enright; his first score from play yesterday didn’t arrive until the 69th minute.

A lingering hope that Cork might somehow salvage something was nurtured either side of half-time.

In injury-time at the end of the first half, Goulding from a free and Goold’s fisted point, finishing off a break down the left by Kerrigan, cut the deficit to eight, 0-5 to 0-13.

Occupying both dressing rooms at the interval would have been the recent history of this fixture in Munster and the way that Kerry have allowed Cork back into the contest by disappearing after half-time.

When points from Hurley and Goulding, twice, chopped off a further three points, the match briefly threatened intrigue.

Kerry’s response was swift and devastating – a four-point salvo that left Cork even farther adrift than at the break.

The fourth of the points was a connoisseur’s free from the excellent Sheehan, the ball curled over from tight on the left touchline for 0-17 to 0-8.

Things went from bad to worse, as Kerry relentlessly fired points over to conclude their biggest championship win in Cork since 1962. KERRY: 1. B Kelly; 2. M Ó Sé, 4. S Enright, 5. P Murphy; 3. A O’Mahony, 6. K Young, 7. F Fitzgerald (capt.); 8. A Maher, 11. B Sheehan (0-4, two frees, one 45); 12. D Walsh (0-1), 14. D O’Sullivan (0-1), 9. J Buckley (0-4); 15. J O’Donoghue (0-10, two frees), 13. P Geaney (0-3), 10. S O’Brien (0-1). Subs: 17. P Crowley for O’Mahony (49 mins), 18. D O’Sullivan for O’Brien (53 mins), 19. D Moran for Sheehan (56 mins), 23. K O’Leary for Walsh (62 mins), 24. B John Keane for Geaney (62 mins), 22. K Donaghy for Buckley (65 mins). Yellow cards: Enright (71 mins). CORK: 1. K O’Halloran; 4. N Galvin, 3. E Cadogan, 2. M Shields (capt.); 7. D Cahalane (0-1), 6. Tomás Clancy (Clonakilty), 5. J Loughrey; 8. A Walsh (0-1), 9. F Goold (0-1); 10. P Kelly, 11. P Kerrigan, 12. J O’Rourke; 13. D Goulding (0-6, three frees, one 45), 14. B Hurley (0-3, two frees), 15. B O’Driscoll. Subs: 24. C O’Neill for Kelly (half-time), 22. C O’Driscoll for O’Rourke (half-time), 23. M Collins for O’Driscoll (48 mins), 17. Je O’Sullivan for T Clancy (51 mins), 25. J Hayes for Walsh (57 mins), 18. Tomás Clancy (Fermoy) for Galvin (62 mins). Yellow cards: Cadogan (55 mins), Hurley (71 mins). Red card: Hayes (71 mins). Referee: Cormac Reill

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