- Report: Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh reports on the Munster Football Championship draw between Kerry and Cork in Killarney.
- Interview: Kerry captain Darren O'Sullivan tells Andrew O'Connor that they were disappointed with their performance but delighted with the character they showed to come back.
- Interview: Cork manager Conor Counihan was happy with the draw and he feels there is everything to play for next week.
Cork missed out on a golden chance to grab their first Championship win in Killarney since 1995 as an injury-time free from Bryan Sheehan saw Kerry level this afternoon's Munster SFC semi-final for a final time and force a replay.
The reigning Munster champions had one foot in next month’s provincial decider, leading by 1-09 to 0-07, but Kerry produced a stirring comeback over the closing quarter-hour.
Substitute Sheehan was central to that and although youngster Colm O’Neill nudged Cork ahead again with a pressure ‘45’, Kerry worked the ball downfield to have the final say.
Setting the early pace in front of a 32,204-strong crowd, the Rebels were 1-05 to 0-05 ahead at half-time with Pearse O’Neill rifling home their goal in the 12th minute.
O'Neill finished the game with 1-02 and typified the hunger that Conor Counihan's men showed over the opening 50 minutes.
Paddy Kelly, making his Munster SFC debut, had a glorious chance of netting Cork's second goal but he slipped the ball wide and Kerry clung on.
The National League Division 1 champions hit a timely purple patch, with Sheehan, Colm Cooper and another Championship newcomer Tadhg Kennelly sharing out five points.
Those scores brought it back to 1-09 to 0-12, the tide was undoubtedly turning but O'Neill, who captained Cork to an Under-21 All-Ireland title last month, showed his bottle by landing a superb '45'.
Back came Kerry though, rescuing a draw from the jaws of defeat with Sheehan setting up a replay which will be the 18th Championship meeting between these great rivals since 2000.
Cork were forced into a late change, with Kieran O'Connor slotting in at right corner-back in place of the injured Ray Carey.
O'Connor had a quiet time of it early on as the defending champions made all the early running, with their big midfielders providing a consistent supply of quality possession.
They scored straight from the throw-in as team captain Graham Canty surged forward to fist the ball over the bar after only 13 seconds.
The Kerry defenders were being pulled around the pitch as Cork, who had the benefit of a first round game against Waterford, used their pace and accurate passing to cause damage.
Donncha O'Connor won a free which he pointed himself for a 0-02 to 0-00 lead and Kerry took their time tÓ Séttle, Cooper tailing a shot away to the right after a lovely diagonal ball from Paul Galvin.
Although they managed to get back on terms by the 11th minute - Tommy and Donnacha Walsh both scored from play - Kerry suffered a huge blow when full-forward Tommy Walsh had to limp off with an ankle injury.
Already without the services of Tralee giant Kieran Donaghy, this
latest setback could not have come at a worse time.
Walsh's injury forced Kerry manager Jack O'Connor to introduce veteran midfielder Darragh Ó Sé into the fray and Kennelly was pushed into the half-forward line.
Kerry's woes were compounded, however, when just a minute later O'Neill rampaged through the heart of the Kerry defence to score the game's only goal.
A couple of hand-passes unlocked the Kingdom's rearguard and the final one from Paul Kerrigan put O'Neill bounding towards goalkeeper Diarmuid Murphy, with Tommy Griffin trailing in his wake.
The Cork centre-forward then ripped a right-footed shot low past
Murphy into the back of the net and with Daniel Goulding following up with a point, Cork were suddenly 1-03 to 0-02 to the good.
As the midpoint of the half arrived, Kerry were managing to carve out scoring chances but missing their usual accuracy in front of goal.
Cooper was way off his usual high standards. He missed a central free and former captain Declan O'Sullivan also popped the ball wide from a good position.
But Cork too had their faults. They were winning many of the breaking balls, yet they could not transfer possession and territory into points.
An O'Neill point and a late free from Donncha O'Connor was all they could muster over the closing 20 minutes of the half.
They really should have been further ahead at half-time but Kerry
could also have been level-pegging at 1-05 apiece.
They enjoyed their best spell coming up to the half-hour mark. Team captain Darren O'Sullivan was carrying the fight with some incisive running. He set up a pointed free from Cooper and although O'Neill replied, Donnacha Walsh and substitute Darragh Ó Sé closed the gap to 1-04 to 0-05 with two well-taken points off their left boots.
The Cork management went for a different approach in the full-forward line, bringing the huge figure of Michael Cussen on for James Masters at full-forward.
But Cussen saw little of the ball as the opening period came to a
close. Darren O'Sullivan won a penalty for Kerry on 31 minutes when he was pushed in the back by Ger Spillane as he attempted to gather a pass from the marauding Marc Ó Sé.
Cork goalkeeper Alan Quirke was incensed by referee Maurice Deegan's decision and earned a yellow card for his protests, following Spillane into the book.
The penalty was an ideal chance for Cooper to fire Kerry ahead and lift his own game but the flame-haired attacker made a poor connection with the ball as he rolled it tamely to Quirke's left and to the wrong side of the post.
Cork drew heart from that miss and foraged forward for Donncha
O'Connor to land the final point of the half from a free.
There were no changes at the break and Kerry, who kicked five wides to Cork's two in the first half, continued to miss chances on the restart.
Playing in towards the town end, Tommy Griffin hit an early wide and Darren O'Sullivan was also wayward from a '45'.
O'Sullivan's second half was disrupted when he sustained a facial
injury after accidentally hitting his head off the right knee of Cork
defender Michael Shields.
Sheehan was introduced in his place but O'Sullivan returned later in place of Donnacha Walsh.
Donncha O'Connor continued to look the best of the Cork forwards, catching a high ball and laying it off for Goulding to ping a shot off the right-hand post and over.
Sheehan converted a free in response, after Declan O'Sullivan drew a foul from Kieran O'Connor, and both sides were beginning to find their rhythm in attack.
A strong run and point from substitute Noel O'Leary, after a neat
link-up with Anthony Lynch, had Cork purring and just moments later Kelly struck wide when one-on-one with Kerry net minder Murphy.
A goal there would have put the Rebels 2-07 to 0-06 ahead and Kerry would have been almost certainly out for the count.
But O'Connor's charges kept plugging away despite playing well below par. A Cooper point was followed by two Cork scores - an O'Connor free and a fisted effort from O'Neill.
However, Kerry began to hit their stride as the minutes ticked by.
Substitutes Ó Sé, Sheehan and David Moran made their mark as they helped Kerry whittle Cork's five-point lead away.
Sheehan kicked a free from close to the left sideline to inspire the
revival, then Kennelly boomed a skyscraper of a point through the
posts after a trademark lung-bursting run from Tomás Ó Sé.
Two points in the space of a minute, both scored by the on-song
Sheehan, left just a point between the sides at 1-09 to 0-11.
Cork struggled to find a response. Midfielder Nicholas Murphy struck a wide when a relieving point looked on the cards and Kerry raided forward again.
Under pressure from two defenders, Cooper showed his class by squaring up the game with a lazy shot off his left.
The momentum was now with Kerry, having struck the game's last five points, and David Moran missed a gilt-edged chance to hit the lead point on 70 minutes.
He had the hard work done after jinking his way into space but his effort from a central position was hooked wide of the target and Cork could breathe again.
Two minutes of injury-time were signalled and in the second of those, Cork won a '45' which substitute Colm O'Neill coolly curled over the bar.
However, Kerry still had time to engineer a response and with Tomás Ó Sé using all his experience to draw a foul, Sheehan kept his side's Munster hopes alive by landing his fourth free.
Munster Council officials have announced that the semi-final replay will take place at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork next Saturday, 13 June, with throw-in at 5.00pm.
Kerry: B Sheehan 0-05 (4f), C Cooper 0-03 (1f), D Walsh 0-02, T Walsh, T Kennelly, D Ó Sé 0-01 each.
Cork: P O’Neill 1-02, D O’Connor 0-03 (3f), D Goulding 0-02, G
Canty, N O’Leary, C O’Neill (0-01 ‘45’) 0-01 each.
Kerry: D Murphy; M Ó Sé, T O'Sullivan, P Reidy; T Ó Sé, T Griffin, A O'Mahony; T Kennelly, M Quirke; P Galvin, Declan O'Sullivan, D Walsh; C Cooper, T Walsh, Darren O'Sullivan (capt).
Subs used: D Ó Sé for T Walsh (11 mins, inj), B Sheehan for Darren O’Sullivan (40, blood sub), Darren O’Sullivan for D Walsh (49), D Moran for Quirke (50), BJ Walsh for Darren O’Sullivan (58), S O’Sullivan for Kennelly (70).
Cork: A Quirke; K O’Connor, M Shields, A Lynch; J Miskella, G Canty (capt), G Spillane; A O'Connor, N Murphy; P Kelly, P O'Neill, P Kerrigan; D Goulding, J Masters, D O'Connor.
Subs used: M Cussen for Masters (26 mins), N O’Leary for Spillane
(32), N O’Donovan for Miskella (45), B O’Regan for K O’Connor (62), C O’Neill for Goulding (65).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).