COBH Ramblers showed their experience and class at a windswept Mounthawk Park to punish Kerry FC with two well-taken goals.
They collected maximum points but despite a gallant Kerry FC second-half display, they made a crucial error when they looked like getting an equaliser.
Cobh Ramblers dominated the early exchanges as Kerry FC were very nervy as expected and they were also playing against a swirling strong wind. Cobh were threatening the Kerry FC defence with regularity and created three decent goal chances in the opening 20 minutes. Wilson Waweru was causing havoc down the left as Tiernan O’Brien and Jack Doherty sprayed the ball left and right. Tiernan O’Brien forced Wayne Guthrie to save at his near post in the fifth minute and two minutes later Wilson Waweru was fouled but O’Brien’s shot was well saved by Guthrie.
Jack Doherty then floated a free kick over the top as Kerry defensively got to grips with the Cobh attacks as Shane Guthrie showed all his League Of Ireland experience with some powerful headers and good clearances while Kevin Williams was getting to grips with Cobh danger man Waweru.
Kerry FC finally tested the Cobh Ramblers in the 30th and 31st minutes when Kerry forced two corners thanks to some great work by Ronan Teahan, who is a nephew of the great Maurice Fitzgerald.
But just as Kerry FC appeared to have weathered the Cobh storm Cobh took the lead in the 42nd minute when a Jack Doherty free was heading for the top corner only for Wayne Guthrie to launch himself to his left and turned the ball behind for a corner. Doherty showed lovely skill to play the ball across the box and Tiernan O’Brien volleyed powerfully past Guthrie.
Kerry almost equalised within a minute when Trip Vrljicak ran from the halfway line but his was scuffed and just drifted behind. Cobh Ramblers retired a goal in front but Kerry introduced Leonardo Gaxha for the second half and within a minute of the restart the former Sheffield United striker gained possession before turning his marker and firing a rocket to the bottom corner that saw Lee Steacy dive full-length to his left to turn it behind for a corner which Kerry wasted.
Kerry were now more competitive as Leo Gaxha was showing his class as the wind started to play havoc with the Cobh kick-outs. Then Graham O’Reilly floated in a free kick after Gaxha was fouled and Cobh were forced to concede a corner.
A Jack Doherty free kick almost got through a packed Kerry defence in the 59th minute but Kerry FC were attacking down both flanks and Gaxha was proving a handful.
Then Kerry FC were denied in the 63rd minute on three occasions, firstly when a Gaxha shot was taken off the line, then the corner saw Kerry claim handball but only got a corner and Steacy saved from Spillane.
But then an error at the back by Kerry FC saw Wayne Guthrie forced to handle on the edge of his box and from the free kick Jack Doherty drilled it low into the bottom corner to give Cobh a 2-0 lead that was really against the run of play in the second half. Sean O’Connell forced Steacy to tip it over the top.
W Guthrie; G O’Reilly, K Williams, S Guthrie, K Spillane, S O’Connell, S McGrath, M Keane, R Teahan, S Kennedy, Tripimir Vrljicak.
R Kelliher for Vrljicak (h-t), L Gaxha for McGrath (h-t), N Gleeson for Kennedy (57), K Amechi for Teahan (80).
COBH: L Steacy, M McCarthy, C Browne, B Frahill, C Lyons, W Waweru, J Doherty, L Desmond, D Desmond, T O’Brien, J Abbott.
P Phillips for Holland (64), J Hegarty for Waweru (70), J Eguaibor for O’Brien (70), D Bosnjak for (85).
Declan Toland (Roscommon).