Cork football: Forwards off the bench were key to Kerry U20 victory

Cork trailed by only a point with just seven minutes remaining but were hit with a late flurry of scores
Cork football: Forwards off the bench were key to Kerry U20 victory

Fintan Fenner of Cork after the EirGrid Munster GAA Football U20 final loss. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

SHORTLY before 10.15 on Monday night and long after the final whistle in Tralee, Munster GAA PRO Bob Ryan pressed the send button on his email.

In it he confirmed the province’s Competitions Control Committee had earlier ratified Pairc Ui Rinn as the venue for the Cork-Kerry Munster semi-final on Saturday week at 6pm.

It will be preceded by the Ladies Football game between Kerry and Tipperary at 3.30.

“This decision follows the agreement of Kerry County Board to Cork’s request to set aside the longstanding home and away arrangement involving the venues of Fitzgerald Stadium and Pairc Ui Chaoimh for 2022 and to play this fixture in Pairc Ui Rinn,” the statement added.

“The home and away arrangement will resume with the next game between the two counties in the Munster Championship taking place at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney and will alternate with Pairc Ui Chaoimh from then on.” 

There was no mention of ground capacity for the game other that tickets will only be on sale through the county boards and that all Cork and Kerry season ticket holders will be entitled to a ticket.

An hour earlier disappointed Cork U20 manager Bobbie O’Dwyer reflected on the 1-11 to 0-7 loss to Kerry in the Munster final.

Kerry only led by 1-5 to 0-7 after 53 minutes following a fine Alan Walsh point for Cork which followed a score from home substitute Gearoid Hassett.

That was an important point in the unfolding drama of those closing minutes because Hassett, Jordan Kissane and Jack O’Connor proved masterstrokes off the bench by Kerry manager Declan O’Sullivan.

Between them they kicked points in pairs, Hassett first, then Kissane and O’Connor in injury time.

Equally critical was the only goal two minutes into the second half with Thomas O’Donnell finishing off a brilliant move instigated by Dylan Geaney’s defence-splitting pass.

“It was a good game of football, a tight game with neither defence giving too much away,” O’Dwyer said.

“We stuck to our pattern though I thought the Kerry half-forward line damaged us a bit when coming high up the field to get the ball.

“We stuck to our structure quite well and then they offloaded a couple of forwards off the bench, managing to get six points from play off them which was the difference between the teams.

Having said, I am so proud of our team. There was only one forward from the All-Ireland winning minor team of three years ago. All the others are either injured, concentrating on hurling or gone to another sport.

“So, there was a bunch of lads coming in and they played their hearts out and you’d have to be so proud of them.” 

Cork manager Bobbie O’Dwyer congratulates Kerry counterpart Declan O'Sullivan. Picture: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus
Cork manager Bobbie O’Dwyer congratulates Kerry counterpart Declan O'Sullivan. Picture: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Both teams set out their stall from the start resulting in a low-scoring first half, ending 0-3 apiece.

“When you’re playing a team with good forwards and if you go man-on-man, open up the pitch, then they’re going to hurt you.

“We saw that at the end as we pushed on Kerry to try and get a score.

Kerry produce forwards and we had to be cagey, well-structured and I thought we were defensively solid.

“There were a couple of goal chances for both teams in the first half and that goal early in the second half was ultimately the difference because we were chasing at that stage.

“Then, when Kerry brought on those forwards in the last 10-15 minutes, they were able to pick off the scores.

“We probably ran out of steam a bit as well and I thought we struggled to link the play with the inside forwards, too.

“We were probably slow in our transition which allowed Kerry get back and you’re not going to score when that happens. Kerry were also well structured and they’re a counter-attacking team which they are very good at what they do.

“They are very hard to break down and Kerry also have the forwards to hurt you on the other side.” 

It’s the end of the line for Cork while Kerry await Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final the weekend after next.

The other semi-final is between surprise Connacht champions Sligo and either Dublin or Kildare who play Thursday night.

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