By Shane Murray
Kerry retained their Bank of Ireland All-Ireland SFC crown with an emphatic 3-13 to 1-09 victory over Munster rivals Cork in a disappointingly one-sided affair in front of 82,196 at Croke Park today.
Pat O'Shea's men were 1-06 to 0-06 ahead at the break thanks to Colm Cooper's opportunist fisted goal in the 17th minute.
However, the Rebels were still in touch after a foul-ridden opening 35 minutes, but Cork's chances of overhauling the defending champions took a blow with the failure of James Masters to take the field for the second half.
And their task took a further blow in the opening minute of the second half, when as hesitancy in the Cork full-back line allowed Kieran Donaghy to steal the ball from Ger Spillane and slot home into an empty net.
That put Kerry two goals clear and that lead stretched to 12 points in the 48th minute when Donaghy again caused havoc for goalkeeper Alan Quirke and Michael Shields under the high ball on the edge of the square, and he again slotted the breaking ball into an unguarded net.
Despite a late consolation goal from Cork substitute Daniel Goulding, Kerry's 35th All-Ireland title was never in doubt, and captain Declan O'Sullivan was presented with the Sam Maguire Cup by Liam Mulvihill, outgoing Director General of the GAA.
The game began in disjointed fashion with neither side really taking control and both sides guilty of needless and persistent fouling.
Cork's James Masters opened the scoring in the third minute with a well taken free from close range after Tomás Ó Sé was penalised for a foul on Pearse O'Neill.
Aidan O'Mahony replied two minutes later for Kerry with a left-footed effort from play, but thereafter fouls were the order of the day as both teams failed to settle.
Donncha O'Connor, Bryan Sheehan, Colm 'Gooch' Cooper and O'Connor swapped points from frees over the next fractious 11 minutes, before the game burst to life when Cooper scored the game's first goal in the 17th minute.
An ambitious lofted ball in towards Gooch around the square saw the Dr Crokes man beat both Kieran O'Connor and advancing goalkeeper Alan Quirke to fist the ball to the net and give Kerry a three-point cushion.
Gooch almost added a second goal three minutes later when he broke clear of O'Connor, sidestepped a challenge from a Cork defender to put himself in good position in front of the posts with only Quirke to beat.
However, the normally clinical forward failed to keep his effort down and the ball blazed over the bar, but Kerry were still four points to the good.
Masters replied with another confidently struck free, but Paul Galvin found space in the Cork defence to slot over from play at the other end.
Kerry were now well on top and dominating Cork from the kick-outs, with Nicholas Murphy and captain Derek Kavanagh playing second fiddle to Kerry's midfield pair of Darragh Ó Sé and Scanlon.
Cork were let off the hook in the 24th minute when Donaghy charged through on goal and he appeared to be pulled back by Shields before skewing a right footed shot wide.
'Star' immediately raced to referee David Coldrick, but his protests were waved away by the Meath man. A penalty would have been harsh, but I've seen them given.
It was the 27th minute before Cork registered their first point from play, Michael Cussen using his height to good advantage to collect the ball ahead of Tom O'Sullivan before turning and nonchalantly slotting over the bar.
That left just a goal between the sides, 1-05 to 0-05, and Masters reduced the deficit further when he converted his third free of the half in the 30th minute as rain began to fall at HQ.
Tomás Ó Sé's assertive run forward was rewarded with a well executed point from play just before the half-time whistle, as Kerry took a 1-06 to 0-06 lead in at the interval.
It was no more than Pat O'Shea's men deserved after completely dominating in most areas of the pitch, converting seven of their 15 scoring chances as they restricted their opponents to six points from eight openings.
James Masters, who did not make much of an impact beyond his three successful frees, was replaced at the break by manager Billy Morgan, with Daniel Goulding thrust into the fray.
However, whatever gameplan Morgan had devised at the break went out the window when the hesitant Cork defence self-destructed within a minute of the restart.
A series of passes across the full-back line failed to see the ball cleared and Donaghy used his strength to dispossess Spillane as the Cork defender attempted to find Quirke, by now ten yards to the left of his goal. With Donaghy easily relieving Spillane of the ball, he was left with the simple task of slotting home into an unguarded net to put Kerry into an almost unassailable six-point lead.
Cork were completely overran during the following exchanges as they defended diligently and drove forward in waves, and shell-shocked Cork simply had no answer to their incessant probing.
Sheehan added another free a minute later before Scanlon opened his account with a superb point from the right after latching on to a pass from Cooper. It was the Currow clubman's second point in 11 Championship outings.
A now rampant Kerry stretched their lead to nine points when captain Declan O'Sullivan's shot went over off the left post, with Cooper adding another point off the same post to put the Kingdom into a surely irretrievable 2-10 to 0-06 lead.
Donncha O'Connor did manage to halt the onslaught with a right-footed free in the 46th minute, but they self-destructed a minute later to allow Donaghy in for his second goal of the afternoon.
Eoin Brosnan tried his luck from distance but attempted point fell just short, but Quirke and Shields struggle under the high ball and Donaghy somehow found the ball at his feet to again drive into an empty net.
That put Kerry 12 points clear and realistically there was no way back for a Cork side who looked a shadow of the team that pushed Kerry so close in the Munster final and disposed of Meath so conclusively in the semi-finals.
Statistically, Cork were never at the races, with Kerry enjoying 26 scoring chances to Cork's ten, while Kerry were also dominating at kick-outs, winning 23 to Cork's 16 by the 52nd minute.
However, Cork gave themselves a lifeline in the 53rd minute when Goulding picked up a ball intended for Cussen some 30 yards out and broke free of his marker before driving the ball past Diarmuid Murphy in the Kerry goal.
An excellent point from Donncha O'Connor saw the gap close to eight points, as a host of bookings and substitutions disrupted the flow of an already disjointed game even further.
Cooper converted another free, while Goulding added a fine point at the other end, before Gooch worked his magic to score one of the points of the afternoon, weaving left and right before dissecting the posts with his trusty left foot from some way out.
A final point from Kerry substitute Sean O'Sullivan sees Kerry close out for an emphatic ten-point win as this current crop of players confirmed themselves as one of the game's finest ever teams after claiming their third title in four years in one of the most one-sided finals in memory.
Kerry's Declan O'Sullivan became the first man since Dick Fitzgerald in 1913 and 1914 to captain back-to-back winning All-Irelands, and he receieved the Sam Maguire Cup from the outgoing Mulvihill after a brief introduction from GAA President Nickey Brennan.
Kerry XV: Diarmuid Murphy, Marc Ó Sé, Tom O'Sullivan, Pádraig Reidy, Tomás Ó Sé (0-01), Aidan O'Mahony (0-01), Killian Young, Darragh Ó Sé, Seamus Scanlon (0-01), Paul Galvin (0-01), Declan O'Sullivan (capt) (0-01), Eoin Brosnan, Colm Cooper (1-05), Kieran Donaghy (2-00), Bryan Sheehan (0-02).
Substitutes: S O’Sullivan (0-01) for Galvin, Darren O’Sullivan for Brosnan, T Griffin for Young, M Lyons for Reidy, MF Russell for Sheehan.
Cork XV: Alan Quirke; Michael Shields, Graham Canty, Kieran O'Connor; Noel O'Leary, Ger Spillane, John Miskella; Nicholas Murphy, Derek Kavanagh (capt); Conor McCarthy, Pearse O'Neill, Kevin McMahon; James Masters (0-03), Michael Cussen (0-01), Donncha O'Connor (0-04).
Substitutes: D Goulding (1-01) for J Masters, A Lynch for J Miskella, F Goold for K McMahon, K O’Sullivan for C McCarthy.
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).