CORK football boss Bobby O’Dwyer had nothing but praise for his young minor players after they had been heartbreakingly denied by Kerry in the semi-final of the Munster championship at Tralee last night.
Just when it seemed certain that the game was going into extra-time after the young Rebels had manufactured a superb equalising goal from the boot of their best players, Clyda Rovers’ Conor Corbett, Kerry struck at the other end with a point.
The late effort from one of the Kingdom’s subs, Jack O’Connor, prevented another 20 minutes of action for the Leesiders.
It was a cruel blow for this gallant, young Cork team and what it all meant was that their championship summer had been terminated in the first week of May.
This was a winner take all situation, a place in the final and a guarantee that subsequently, they would get at least one more game in the All-Ireland championship.
But it wasn’t to be and because of that last-gasp Kerry point, Cork boss O’Dwyer was heartbroken for his players.
“We thought that we were looking at extra-time after that goal from Conor but a small bit of inexperience allowed one of their players to drift up the field.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t see him and he came in on the ball and got the score that mattered.
“It is very disappointing to lose a game that way, the guys tried so hard, that is the upsetting thing about it.
“They never panicked, even though they were under pressure on occasions. I just could not fault them for the effort they put in but it was just one of those things.’’
The Cork boss, in his first year at the helm, will be charge again next year and neither he nor the players could be faulted here.
Kerry boss Peter Keane felt sympathy for Cork too ”It was all or nothing tonight. Now we have football until the end of July at least, Cork don’t and that is a pity for them.’’
This was the fifth consecutive year that Cork’s campaign had ended at the hands of their great rivals and this one will hurt more than any of the previous ones.
They were gallant in defeat but it’s Kerry who now seem near certainties to go on and claim their fifth provincial title in a row.
They will play Clare in the final next month.