Kerry 4-22 Cork 1-9
KERRY exacted sweet revenge for last year’s shock defeat by putting Cork firmly in their place in the sweltering heat of Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, on Sunday.
They pulverised the visitors in the second half when Cork replaced keeper Micheál Aodh Martin with Mark White, who must have felt like he was in the middle of a siege.
Three goals in eight minutes turned a five-point interval advantage into 16 by the 48th minute and Kerry’s 82nd provincial title was safely in the bag, leading by 4-14 to 1-7.
And when you consider Kerry captain David Clifford was the only home forward not to pick up a score by the second water break, it just made the whole situation even more bizarre.
The gifted forward eventually got his name on the score-sheet with a 61st minute free, but Sean Meehan can be rightly proud of his man-marking display.
The gulf in class was patently obvious despite Cork starting well, but the game as a contest fizzled out long before the end, which couldn’t come quickly enough.
Both sides made changes to their selected teams, Cork introducing Michael Hurley for Paul Walsh and Kerry bringing in Paul Murphy for Gavin Crowley and Jack Barry for Micheal Burns.
Cork re-jigged their formation, moving Brian Hartnett to midfield alongside captain Ian Maguire and Luke Connolly to centre-forward to accommodate Hurley in the inside line.
In the first half Cork made an encouraging start and led by 0-5 to 0-2 after 12 minutes as the Hurleys, Dan Ó Duinnín, from a ‘mark’ and Brian Hartnett all found the range.
Yet, there were worrying signs as keeper Martin made fine saves from Sean O’Shea and David Clifford.
However, Cork received a huge boost with a goal five minutes later after Paul Murphy was dispossessed at one end and Cork countered with Maguire setting up Brian Hurley.
The Castlehaven forward rounded Jason Foley along the left before finishing sweetly with a low shot for a 1-5 to 0-3 lead, which was four at the first water break.
Kerry, though, gradually reeled in the visitors on the resumption and five points on the spin levelled matters at 1-6 to 0-9 by the 29th minute before the Kingdom edged in front for the first time via O’Shea.
And while Connolly tied matters again Kerry struck for a crucial goal, three minutes from the interval, following a solo run from deep by corner-back Brian O Beaglaoich, who planted the ball in the far corner of the net.
It helped Kerry lead by five points at the break, 1-12 to 1-7, Cork compiling seven wides in the period along with striking the upright twice and facing a major task in the second half.
A reflection of their worrying position was their return of just two points during the second quarter when Kerry rattled up 1-8.
Little did anyone realise the Kingdom hadn’t even got started as Cork finished with 14 following a red card for Ruairí Deane.