Murphy and Cronin on song as Cork U20 footballers are too strong for Kildare in the John Kerins Cup final

Murphy and Cronin on song as Cork U20 footballers are too strong for Kildare in the John Kerins Cup final
Blake Murphy in control for Cork against John Lawlor, Kildare. Picture: Alf Harvey.

Cork 2-14 Kildare 1-12 

CORK showed that they are in good shape to defend the U20 All-Ireland title after they saw off a good Kildare side in the decider of the John Kerins Cup.

The final of the preseason competition, named in honour of a Leeside football legend, was held in the John Lockes club in Callan, Kilkenny on Saturday afternoon.

Two of the heroes of last year’s team, Blake Murphy and Mark Cronin, in particular tormented a Kildare unit who came through a group containing Dublin, Meath and Laois to book their place in the final.

The early stages were tightly contested and the scores were tied at 0-4 each after 12 minutes following two well taken early scores by Cronin.

Conor Russell, Brian Hayes and Cronin again then scored to put Cork 0-7 to 0-4 ahead by the 21st minute.

Brian Lynch. Picture: Alf Harvey.
Brian Lynch. Picture: Alf Harvey.

Kildare came back in the game in the last minutes of the half and the impressive Shane O’Sullivan scored twice in a row to leave the minimum between the teams. Just as they were building momentum, a fine Cork move in the last attack of the attack ended with Cronin setting up Murphy to find the net and leave them 1-7 to 0-6 ahead at the break.

Cork really got on top around the middle in the second half and scored five points in a row between the 39th and 45th minutes to go 1-13 to 0-8 ahead.

Daniel O’Mahoney on the ball for Cork against Tony O’Connor, Kildare. Picture: Alf Harvey.
Daniel O’Mahoney on the ball for Cork against Tony O’Connor, Kildare. Picture: Alf Harvey.

To give the 2018 U20 All-Ireland winners their credit, they didn’t buckle under that pressure and answered back with three points of their own to come back into the game.

Any thoughts of repeating the sort of late comeback that had earned them a draw against Dublin and a win against Meath were banished when Murphy raced away to score his second goal of the game.

Kildare pulled back a consolation goal late in the game when O’Sullivan found the net but Cork were full value for their win.

Keith Ricken’s side showed good heart for the battle as well as the talents of the likes of Murphy, Cronin and also Daniel O’Connell in midfield. You wouldn’t rule out these two sides meeting again further down the line once the Championship gets into full swing.

The Cork U20 team that beat Kildare in the John Kerins Cup final. Picture: Alf Harvey.
The Cork U20 team that beat Kildare in the John Kerins Cup final. Picture: Alf Harvey.

Scorers for Cork: B Murphy 2-2 (0-1 f), M Cronin 0-6 (0-1 f), B Hayes 0-2, D O'Connell 0-1, F Herlihy 0-1, K Twomey 0-1, C Russell 0-1 (mark).

Kildare: S O'Sullivan 1-7 (0-5 f), D Kirwan 0-3, L Griffin 0-1, P McDermott 0-1.

CORK: Josh O'Keeffe; Colm O'Shea, Daniel O'Mahoney, Diarmuid Phelan; Ciaran O'Sullivan, Sean Desmond, Brian Lynch; Brian Hayes, Jack Lawton; Daniel O'Connell, Mark Cronin, Fionn Herlihy; Kieran Twomey, Blake Murphy cpt., Conor Russell. 

Subs: Eoghan Lehane for Desmond, 26; Aodhá Ó Luasa for Russell, h/t; Darragh Hayes for Twomey, h/t; Gerry O'Sullivan for Herlihy, 40; Ciaran Nyhan for Lawton, 52.

KILDARE: Kyle Costello; Jack Hamill, John Lawler, Sean Moore, DJ Earley, Jack Collins, Adam Conneely; Darren McDermott, Tony O’Connor; Alex Beirne, Darragh Kirwan, Findlay Nairn; Luke Griffin, Shane O’Sullivan, Paudi Behan. 

Subs: Aaron Browne for Beirne, h/t; Paddy McDermott for Earley, h/t; Jack Sargent for Hamill, h/t; Mark Cully for Griffin, 49; Aaron Browne for Adam Conneely, 49.

Referee: Chris Dwyer, Offaly.

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