Cork 1-15 Kerry 2-8
IN what could be on the only time Cork and Kerry meet this year in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the Munster Intermediate Camogie Championship was staged as a warm-up for Cork-Limerick in the hurling.
Ultimately, the Rebels lifted the provincial crown but not before a stern test from a very determined Kerry side.
The Kingdom lined out without six of last season's team, including regular goalkeeper Aoife Fitzgerald, out with cruciate injury, though the hosts were minus Niamh O’Leary from their starting 15, after she picked up an injury mid-week.
In an opening 30 minutes where referee Aaron Hogg was over-fussy, issuing three yellow cards in a fair contest that didn’t warrant them, he awarded a controversial penalty after only three minutes penalising Cork keeper Sarah Ahern, who came off her line and batted the ball clear as a Kerry forward backed in on top of her. Patrice Diggin slotted the sliotar to the net to give Kerry a great start and she added to her tally pointing a free soon after.
Kerry dominated, winning three frees as Jackie Horgan put them 1-3 to no score ahead at the end of the first quarter.
Cork came more into the game with Lauren Callanan dominating around the middle and with Joanne Casey slotting over three frees they had the deficit down to a goal.
Horgan edged Kerry back in front with another free and with Patrice Diggin striking a superb long-range effort between the posts they went two clear.
Cork, now settling into the game, began to win more possession. Rachel Harty pointed from play followed by a Casey and the Rebels were finding gaps and playing with a lot more confidence.
Defending well corner-back Danielle Carroll drove forward and her shot for a point was batted clear by Emma Lawlor but Casey reacted fastest to finish to the net. It was level at the break.
On the resumption, the sides swapped points twice but again Kerry hit the front with Edel Slattery finishing over the line in a goal-mouth scramble.
This was a wake-up call for Cork as they hit the next eight scores without reply to open up a 1-15 to 2-7 gap.
Rachel O’Shea, Casey, Leanne O’Sullivan, Kaitlin Hickey and Lauren Homan were all on target, and distributing the ball better and finding their players with more confidence Cork were in control.
At the back, O'Sullivan, Carroll and Aoife O’Callaghan were on top while around the middle Callanan and Rachel Harty continued to hold the upper hand.
Kerry added a Sarah Lawlor point to their tally before the full-time whistle but Cork, despite not playing any why near the standard they set usually, had done enough to take the title. They know they will need a vast improvement if aspirations of an All-Ireland title are to be achieved.
For Kerry, they will be happy with a performance that saw them battle to the finish and with both sides participating in the All-Ireland Intermediate championship they will look forward with renewed confidence
Scorers for Cork: J Casey 1-8 (1-7 f), L Homan 0-3, R O’Shea, L O'Sullivan, K Hickey, R Harty 0-1 each.
Kerry: P Diggin 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-2 f), J Horgan 0-4 f, E Slattery 1-0, S Lawlor, A O'Sullivan 0-1 each.
CORK: S Ahern; A Crowley, K Falvey, D Carroll; K Kilcommins, A O’Callaghan, L O’Sullivan; R Harty, L Callanan; J Casey, M Murphy, S Hutchinson; R O’Shea, L Homan, F Neville (c).
Subs: K Hickey for S Hutchinson (h-t), J O’ Leary for A Crowley (h-t), C Crowley for R O’Shea (56), C Finn for F Neville (56), L Doyle for K Falvey (59).
KERRY: E Lawlor; E Ryall, S Murphy, M Costello; A O’Connor, P Diggin, R McCarthy (c); K Lynch, E O’Donoghue; AM Leen, C Spillane, A Hanafin; A O’Sullivan, J Horgan, E Slattery.
Subs: D O'Leary for A Hanafin (25), C Cullen for A M Leen (47), K O'Dwyer P Diggin (inj 53), S Lawlor for A O’Sullivan (58), J O’Keeffe for E Slattery (60).
Referee: Aaron Hogg (Clare).