Goal-hungry Cork run riot against under-strength Kerry in McGrath Cup opener

Eire Og's Colm O'Callaghan lit up Pairc Ui Rinn with a brilliant display, scoring 2-4 from play
Goal-hungry Cork run riot against under-strength Kerry in McGrath Cup opener

Colm O'Callaghan, Cork breaking past Greg Horan, Kerry to score his sides fifth goal in their McGrath Cup match at Páirc Uí Ring, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Cork 5-11 Kerry 0-14 

GOAL-hungry Cork made a winning start to the new season by blasting a weakened Kerry in the opening McGrath Cup game in ideal conditions at Pairc Ui Rinn on Wednesday.

There was much to admire in the home display, playing with a method and pace that blew away the All-Ireland champions, who started with just three of their Sam Maguire Cup winning side.

Manager Jack O’Connor was clearly irked with the first-half performance because he made six changes at the break with Kerry 10 points adrift and well out of the reckoning.

Cork were inspired by midfielder Colm O’Callaghan, who finished leading scorer with a brilliant 2-4, before replaced just before the hour to a fine ovation from a large home following.

Captain Brian Hurley had the satisfaction of being Cork’s first scorer of 2023, a goal after five minutes, latching on to a rebound from a Sean Powter shot to score into an unguarded net following on from a Tony Brosnan free for the visitors.

A superb Ruairi Murphy pass led to a Killian Spillane equaliser, the only time the sides were on level terms in the period before Cork took over by opening up a struggling Kerry defence and creating plenty of chances.

They registered 1-3 without response as Kerry went 12 minutes before adding to their tally, Cork’s second goal arriving in the 20th minute.

A short kick-out from Kerry keeper Shane Murphy ended in a turnover as debutant Conor Corbett and Hurley put a defender under severe pressure, resulting in Chris Og Jones netting, either side of two points from the returning Brian O’Driscoll.

Cork now enjoyed a two-goal advantage before Darragh Roche kicked a couple of super points from distance for Kerry, who leaked a third goal after 24 minutes.

Midfielders Ian Maguire and O’Callaghan combined well for the latter to fist home for a 3-3 to 0-4 lead and the goal lifted the Eire Og player to new heights, sweeping forward at every opportunity to land three impressive points, his middle effort from the top drawer.

Hurley converted a free from near the left touchline to move Cork 3-7 to 0-6 ahead at half-time and full value for their lead.

Cork grabbed their fourth goal after 40 minutes, O’Driscoll at the end of a Corbett pass to score with a thunderous drive, and O’Callaghan claimed his second and his side’s fifth with an equally ferocious shot, eight minutes later, 5-10 to 0-7.

Cork emptied their bench in the second-half as Kerry kicked seven points without reply until substitute John O’Rourke completed the scoring with the last point.

Scorers for Cork: C O’Callaghan 2-4, M Hurley and B O’Driscoll 1-2 each, C Og Jones 1-1, S Powter, J O’Rourke 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kerry: T Brosnan 0-6, 5f, D Moynihan and D Roche 0-2 each, M Burns, D O’Sullivan, K Spillane 0-1 each, S Murphy 0-1f.

CORK: MA Martin (Nemo Rangers); M Shanley (Clonakilty), D O’Mahony (Knocknagree), K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers); R Maguire (Castlehaven), S Meehan (Kiskeam), M Taylor (Mallow); C O’Callaghan (Eire Og), I Maguire (St Finbarr’s); E McSweeney (Knocknagree), S Powter (Douglas), B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh); C Og Jones (Iveleary), B Hurley (Castlehaven), captain, C Corbett (Clyda Rovers).

Subs: K O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) for I Maguire and J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) for McSweeney 50, T Walsh (Kanturk) for O’Donovan and R Deane (Bantry Blues) for Corbett, 54, L Fahy (Ballincollig) for Taylor, F Herlihy (Dohenys) for Powter, M Cronin (Nemo Rangers) for Jones 57, C Kiely (Ballincollig) for R Maguire and S Merritt (Mallow) for O’Callaghan 59, C Kelly (Eire Og) for Martin and S Sherlock (St Finbarr’s) for Hurley 63.

KERRY: S Murphy (Dr Croke’s); D Casey (Austin Stacks), J Foley (Ballydonoghue), J O’Shea (Austin Stacks); J McCarthy (Kenmare Shamrocks), T Morley (Templenoe), captain, C Gammell (Legion); D O’Connor (Na Gaeil), B O’Sullivan (Dingle); A Spillane (Templenoe), R Murphy (Listry), B O’Mahony (St Senan’s); T Brosnan (Dr Croke’s), D Roche (Glenflesk), K Spillane (Templenoe).

Subs used: J Barry (Na Gaeil), S Okunbar (do), G Horan (Austin Stacks), T O’Sullivan (Dingle), M Burns (Dr Croke’s), D Moynihan (Spa), all half-time, D O’Sullivan (Kilgarvan), D Geaney (Dingle), D O’Donoghue (Spa) 57.

Referee: D O’Callaghan (Limerick).

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