Path to hurling glory for Cork in 1990 started in Tralee

Path to hurling glory for Cork in 1990 started in Tralee
Brendan O'Sullivan of Cork nearly takes the referee's head off in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final against Antrim. He started in attack against Kerry in 1990, hitting 1-2. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

IT’S common enough for Cork and Kerry to square up in double-headers in football, less so in hurling.

Yet, that was the case 30 years ago, when Austin Stack Park, Tralee, housed two games between the neighbours.

Cork would have been unbackable favourites to get their Munster senior championship campaign off to a winning start against the no-hopers in the green and gold.

The curtain-raiser was a junior game between the pair and while Cork duly won both, Kerry had the distinction of scoring more goals in the two games, their five against the visitors’ four.

Kerry showed they were going to be no push-overs by scoring a couple of early goals in the junior match to lead by double scores, 2-2 to 0-4 approaching the interval.

Cork managed to reduce the margin to the minimum on the resumption, though the sides were still level approaching the closing quarter.

The decisive score was Cork’s goal from substitute Dan O’Connell in a 1-12 to 2-4 victory.

In the senior game, Cork had nine points to spare at the final whistle, winning by 3-16 to 3-7, but their display wasn’t convincing.

They struggled to overcome the loss of key players through injury and appeared vulnerable at times in a game that was unlikely to linger long in the memory.

Apart from Seán O’Gorman and Denis Walsh in defence, outstanding midfielder Pat Buckley and Brendan O’Sullivan and Ger Fitzgerald in attack, few other Cork players enhanced their reputations.

Kerry kept battling right to the end and had the satisfaction of matching Cork in the goal-county with full-back Noel Browne, centre-back DJ Leahy and centre-forward Christy Walsh catching the eye.

Cork established a two-point lead by the 20th minute, a reflection of the home side’s endeavours, but a quick-fire goal from Kevin Hennessy settled the visitors.

The Midleton star grabbed Seanie McCarthy’s sideline cut and wriggled his way through before shooting past keeper Johnny Conway, who got his stick to the ball, but couldn’t keep it out.

Two minutes later, Cork were in for their second-goal, O’Sullivan flashing a low drive to the net to the net.

Kerry replied almost immediately with their first goal from Tony Maunsell only for Cork to add their third for a 3-6 to 1-5 interval lead.

Jim Cashman’s long-range free dropped invitingly for Teddy McCarthy to connect brilliantly and give Conway no chance.

In the second-half Cork extended their lead to 10 points with an array of fine points entering the final quarter only to slacken off at the back in the closing stages.

Kerry hit them with goals in rapid succession, Jerome O’Sullivan and the outstanding Walsh beating keeper Ger Cunningham to reduce the margin to five points with 13 minutes remaining.

A late flurry of points, though, shoved Cork further in front to book a semi-final date with Waterford.

Scorers for Cork: B O’Sullivan 1-2, K Hennessy 1-2 (0-2 f), T McCarthy 1-1, P Buckley, M Foley and S McCarthy 0-2 each, K Kingston 0-2 f, K McGuckin, M Mullins and G Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

Kerry: C Walsh 1-2, T Maunsell and J O’Sullivan 1-0 each, J Hennessy 0-4 (0-3 f), E Murphy 0-1

CORK: G Cunningham; J Considine, S O’Gorman, D Walsh; K McGuckin, J Cashman, D Quirke; P Buckley, S McCarthy; M Mullins, T McCarthy, G Fitzgerald; K Kingston, B O’Sullivan, K Hennessy. 

Subs: M Foley for Mullins, A O’Sullivan for Kingston and B Cunningham for McCarthy.

KERRY: J Conway; J Foley, N Browne, M Burke; J Walsh, DJ Leahy, S O’Shea; M O’Shea, J O’Connell; E Murphy, C Walsh, J O’Sullivan; T Maunsell, S Sheehan, J Hennessy.

Referee: M Quinn (Clare).

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