Cork 2-24 Kerry 2-10
THE CORK U20s hurlers are through to a Munster semi-final against Limerick after negotiating the opening hurdle in Tralee on Monday night.
This wasn't the slickest of showings by the raging favourites, though Ciarán Joyce, Conor O'Callaghan and Daire O'Leary were hugely impressive in defence, with Shane O'Regan and Brian Roche nabbing some fine scores up top, along with sub Brian Hayes, who added 1-2 in the last quarter.
Pat Ryan and his selectors were without the Blarney contingent, Daire Connery and Seán Twomey, but that afforded opportunities to a clutch of promising young guns to make their mark. The game threw-in under a cloud, with the government debating what extra Covid restrictions to impose but all the Rebels could do was focus on the task at hand.
Or at least tried to. They took a while to settle, Kerry, operating with two sweepers and an extra body at midfield were well drilled and knocked Cork out of their early stride. The Kingdom led 0-2 to no score and 0-3 to 0-2 early on, though Tommy O'Connell and O'Regan offered a threat up top.
It was level just after the water-break, Kevin Goulding, Michael Slattery and Darragh Slattery impressing for the hosts. However, Cork got motoring with O'Leary, Joyce and captain O'Callaghan hoovering up ball and it was 0-11 to 0-5 at half-time.
Colin O'Brien and Brian Roche were more prominent on the restart, with Brian O'Sullivan making a mark in midfield and it was 0-17 to 0-7 before a Michael Slattery long-range free ended up in the net.
It wasn't exactly a case of game-on though, Cork managing a couple of goals of their own.
Roche finished with 1-3 and was classy in possession throughout. Sub Hayes clipped over a couple of lovely points and flicked in a goal in added time. O'Leary had 0-4 to his name from wing-back.
The Kingdom were defiant, Nathan Guerin raising a second green flag and this wasn't as one-sided as predicted.
Cork have plenty of work to do, though they know there are key hurlers due back for the Limerick clash.
Scorers for Cork: B Roche 1-3, B Hayes 1-2, T O'Connell 0-5 (0-3 f), D O'Leary 0-4, S O'Regan 0-3, B O'Sullivan, E Carey, C O'Brien 0-2 each, A Connolly 0-1.
Kerry: M Slattery 1-4 (1-2 f, 0-65), N Guerin 1-0, D Slattery 0-2, K Goulding 0-2 f, D Moriarty, D Casey 0-1 each.
J Cahalane (St Finbarr’s) for Connolly (40), E Twomey and B Hayes (both St Finbarr's) for O'Connell and Quirke (46), D Hogan (Sarsfields) for O'Brien (50), L Horgan (Glen Rovers) for Moynihan (52).
N Guerin for Doyle (h-t), D Moriarty for Kelliher (38), D Nolan for Hannifin (42), S O'Halloran for Lenihan (51), P Shanahan for Sheehan (53).
Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).