Cork U20s blitz Kerry to land Munster title  

Cork U20s blitz Kerry to land Munster title  
Cork captain Peter O'Driscoll lifting the cup high as the players celebrate their victory over Kerry in the Eirgrid Munster U20 FC final. Picture Denis Minihane.

Cork 3-16 Kerry 0-12

CORK football received a timely boost with this unexpected, but overwhelming victory over favourites and defending champions, Kerry, in a surprisingly one-sided Munster U20 final at Páirc Uí Rinn last evening.

A crowd of just under 3,000 witnessed one of the best displays in recent memory by a Cork team, which bettered their more illustrious opponents in practically every facet of the game.

Not only did they monopolise possession around the middle third, but it was their intelligent distribution and eagle-eyed finish which decorated their stunning display.

And to restrict a talented Kerry forward sector to a dozen points spoke volumes about the quality of their defending with full-back Maurice Shanley leading by example.

Cork, who made two changes to their selected team by bringing in Sean Meehan to the defence and Colm O'Callaghan to the attack, fell behind after only 20 seconds to an Eddie Horan point.

But they took over for the remainder of the opening quarter with some brilliant football, using the leather sensibly and feeding a clearly in-form inside line.

Such was Cork's control that they amassed the next seven points as Kerry went 14 minutes without adding to their tally and were in big trouble.

After Cathal O'Mahony pointed a free, Cork showed their shooting skills with an array of magnificent scores as Mark Cronin and O'Mahony caused havoc anytime the ball came their direction.

Cronin was exceptional, backing himself from a variety of distances and angles, to keep the scoreboard ticking along favourably from a home perspective.

The Nemo Rangers dangerman kicked a couple in quick succession before O'Mahony added a beauty for a 0-7 to 0-1 lead, throwing the form-book astray.

Horan kicked Kerry's second point and that started a period of dominance as two more scores followed from Fiachra Clifford and Sean O'Leary for a three-point game by the 20th minute.

Cork's response was encouraging, Cronin firing over his third point though they were grateful for the intervention of goalkeeper Josh O'Keeffe, who, twice denied Horan in quick succession.

And the rebels finished the half on a high with substitute Blake Murphy scoring with his first touch to help Cork lead by 0-10 to 0-6 and fully deserving of their advantage.

The defending champions needed a quicker start on the resumption, their frustration reflected in the yellow carding of keeper Brian Lonergan as the teams trotted for the break.

But their hopes of retaining their title and pursuing a course for that elusive All-Ireland suffered a major blow, when Cork struck for a superb goal after 37 minutes.

Colm O'Callaghan, only recently returned from a cruciate knee ligament injury, did the spadework with a thundering run through the middle before spotting Murphy on the run and unmarked.

His exquisite pass allowed Murphy to continue his burst, leave the defence in his wake and finish expertly for a 1-11 to 0-7 lead. Cork fans were pinching themselves to believe their eyes.

Cork's Damien Gore winning a high ball from Kerry's Dan McCarthy in the Eirgrid Munster U20 FC final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture Denis Minihane.
Cork's Damien Gore winning a high ball from Kerry's Dan McCarthy in the Eirgrid Munster U20 FC final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture Denis Minihane.

Kerry' grip on the title was loosening and while the clock was still in their favour, Cork never looked like losing and claim their first title in the new age-group.

And they decorated their memorable performance with a couple of late goals to rubberstamp their authority.

Cathail O'Mahony in a race for the ball with Kerry's Michael Potts in the Eirgrid Munster U20 FC final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture Denis Minihane.
Cathail O'Mahony in a race for the ball with Kerry's Michael Potts in the Eirgrid Munster U20 FC final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture Denis Minihane.

Murphy turned provider for the next by setting up another substitute Fionn Herlihy a couple of minutes from the end.

And then on the hour the irresistible O'Mahony capped a brilliant display by smacking in the third goal, to the delight of the home following,

Scorers for Cork: C O'Mahony 1-5 (0-2 f), M Cronin 0-5 (0-1 f), B Murphy 1-1, F Herlihy 1-0, D Gore, C Barrett 0-2 each.

Kerry: D O'Sullivan 0-5 (0-4 f), E Horan 0-3, C Gammell, S O'Leary, F Clifford, P O'Shea 0-1 each.

CORK: J O'Keeffe (Newmarket); M O'Mahony (Knocknagree), M Shanley (Clonakilty), P Ring (Aghabullogue); G O'Donovan (Newcestown), S Meehan (Kiskeam), P O'Driscoll (Ilen Rovers, c); B Hartnett (Douglas), D O'Connell (Kanturk); C Barrett (St Finbarr's), C O'Callaghan (Eire Og), M Hodnett (Carbery Rangers); M Cronin (Nemo Rangers), C O'Mahony (Mitchelstown), D Gore (Kilmacabea). 

Subs: B Murphy (St Vincent's) for Hodnett 27, F Herlihy (Dohenys) for O'Callaghan 48, J Murphy (Éire Óg) for Barrett 50, J McCarthy (Carrigaline) for O'Donovan 59, S Hickey (Millstreet) for Meehan 60+2.

KERRY: B Lonergan (Ballymacelligott); D McCarthy (Kenmare Shamrocks), D Casey (Austin Stacks), M Potts (Dr Croke's); C Gammell (Legion), P Warren (Gneeveguilla), S O'Leary (Kilcummin, c); J O'Connor (Austin Stacks), B Mahony (St Senan's); S Horan (Scartaglin), E Horan (do), A Donoghue (Castleisland Desmonds); F Clifford (Laune Rangers), D O'Sullivan (Kilgarvan), K Falvey (Annascaul). 

Subs: C Ferriter (Annascaul) for Falvey 22, N Donoghue (Firies) for McCarthy 34, B Friel (Rathmore) for S Horan and C O'Donoghue (Glenflesk) for Casey 40, P Walsh (Brosna) for Clifford 53.

Referee: A Kissane (Waterford).

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