Cork 3-25 Kerry 0-11
Cork eased clear of Kerry after a testing opening 20 minutes to open their Electric Ireland Munster MHC campaign with a win at Austin Stack Park on Tuesday night.
The visitors never trailed in Tralee, with an early goal from Ben Walsh giving them a 1-1 to 0-1 advantage. While Kerry did come back to within two points in the opening quarter, Cork had assembled a 1-12 to 0-6 lead by half-time and they continued to augment that in the second half.
With Limerick visiting Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Tuesday night, another win would send Cork straight through to the semi-finals as the winners of their group.
Ross O’Sullivan finished with ten points for Paudie Murray's side, landing all eight dead-ball opportunities within realistic scoring range, while Adam O’Sullivan had 1-4 to his name by the end and Daniel Murnane landed three second-half points after moving to midfield, giving him four in total.
Kerry had the wind in the first half and eschewed the option to flood their defence, instead asking questions of Cork for much of the opening half, though the visitors’ early goal ensured that they always led.
After Ross O’Sullivan’s opener was answered by Brian O’Connor – there was a half-chance of a goal for the Kerryman – Cork raised a green flag. Midfielder Ben Walsh won the break following an Eoin O’Mahony sideline cut and worked his way in from the left before shooting, his effort taking a deflection to go past Tomás Godley.
Despite that setback, Kerry continued to battle well, despite having a deficit in terms of physical strength. Points from Killian Boyle and Liam Óg O’Connor had them back within 1-3 to 0-4, but Ross O’Sullivan was to the fore as Cork pulled clear in the remainder of the half, with Murnane and midfielder Peter O’Shea influential, too.
Though Kerry’s Jack Enright had the first score of the second half with a lovely individual point but Cork replied through the two O’Sullivans before the pair linked for Timmy Wilk – the only survivor from last year’s All-Ireland win – to get the second goal on 36.
Wilk’s move to full-forward in a swap with James Murray saw the latter set up a lovely point for Adam O’Sullivan and then add one of his own before Ross O’Sullivan’s kicked pass from a ruck set up his namesake for the third goal.
Murnane, switched with O’Shea, drove forward from midfield to increase the lead while sub Jayden Casey added two points and corner-back Tadhg O’Leary Hayes was also on target in the closing stages.
Bigger tests await Cork, but they did the job that was in front of them.
Scorers for Cork: R O’Sullivan 0-10 (0-7f, 0-1 65), A O’Sullivan 1-4, D Murnane 0-4, T Wilk 1-1, B Walsh 1-0, N Murray, J Casey 0-2 each, T O’Leary Hayes, E O’Mahony 0-1 each.
Kerry: K Boyle 0-5f, J Enright 0-2, L Rochford, S McElligott (0-1f), L Óg O’Connor, B O’Connor 0-1 each.
CORK: D O’Connell (Dromina); T O’Leary Hayes (Midleton), J O’Brien (Fermoy), E Guinane (Valley Rovers); S Ahern (Bandon), D Murnane (Carrigtwohill), M Woods (Valley Rovers); P O’Shea (Erin’s Own), B Walsh (Killeagh); A O’Sullivan (Ballinhassig), T Wilk (Cobh), E O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum); R O’Sullivan (Na Piarsaigh), J Murray (Youghal), J Wigginton Barrett (St Finbarr’s).
Subs: C O’Leary (Fr O’Neills) for Walsh (41), S Lynam (Glen Rovers) for Wigginton Barrett (43), C Buckley (St Finbarr’s) for Woods (47), J Casey (Youghal) for O’Mahony (49), D Cashman (Bride Rovers) for Guinane (56).
KERRY: T Godley; R McGrath, C Nolan, D Nolan; G O’Riordan, L Kennelly, K Sheehan; S McElligott, L Rochford; L Óg O’Connor, J Enright, C O’Sullivan; K Boyle, C Fitzgerald, B O’Connor.
Subs: K Best for Sheehan (21, injured), A McDonagh for Fitzgerald (43), D Corridon for Boyle (47, injured), K Quilter for Enright (58), R Hanafin for Rochford (60, injured).
Referee: A Tierney (Tipperary).