Kerry 1-15 Cork 1-12

Updated: Sunday, 03 Jul 2011 19:39

Aidan O'Mahony of Kerry hunts down Cork's Patrick Kelly
Aidan O'Mahony of Kerry hunts down Cork's Patrick Kelly



Kerry staved off a gritty comeback from Cork as they retained the Munster Senior Football Championship title in Killarney.

The Rebels’ second-half haul of 1-07 included a penalty from Donncha O’Connor, but Eoin Brosnan and substitute James O’Donoghue conjured up injury-time points to seal it for Kerry.

Darran O’Sullivan’s 15th-minute goal was the highlight of a dominant first-half display from Jack O’Connor’s side, who led by 1-10 to 0-05 at the break.

Cork raised the tempo as they turned the heat on Kerry, especially in the final 20 minutes, but with Declan O’Sullivan standing out, the Kingdom reigned supreme in front of 40,892 spectators.

Although tiredness crept in for Kerry as the All-Ireland champions ate into their lead, they did enough in the opening 35 minutes to prove worthy winners.

Their movement, support play and precise foot-passing delighted the home supporters and Cork, despite making improvements after the restart, struggled to find their top gears.

The tactical battle began before the throw-in when Declan O’Sullivan moved into full-forward and Kieran Donaghy was switched out to midfield.

Set up by a roaming Donaghy, Colm Cooper screwed the opening point attempt wide and Kerry goalkeeper Brendan Kealy used his legs to block a low, driven shot from Paul Kerrigan, Cork’s liveliest forward.

In an incident-packed opening five minutes, Donncha O’Connor had a penalty claim waved away by referee David Coldrick and Cooper landed the first point from a free.

There were hard hits aplenty, Cork captain Graham Canty bursting clear of Donaghy and charging into a meaty challenge from Anthony Maher. But Donaghy, who slotted back in at full-forward, got his revenge with Kerry’s second point.

With Bryan Sheehan and Maher showing well in centre-field, Kerry pressed forward for scores from Declan O’Sullivan and Cooper.

Cork got off the mark in the 12th minute, Daniel Goulding drilling over from a good position. Kerry’s lead was cut from 0-04 to 0-02 when O’Connor curled over a beauty from the right.

But that only served to ignite Kerry’s attack. Darran O’Sullivan darted away from two Cork defenders, running in from the left to thump a rocket of a shot past Alan Quirke and high into the net.

Donaghy shrugged off Canty to land his second point and a high-quality catch from Maher set up Darran O’Sullivan for another shot on goal - this time a brave Quirke managed to deflect it wide.

From the resulting ‘45’ that dropped short, Donaghy threatened twice, his second attempt just squeezing wide of the right hand post.

Profiting from a succession of quick kickouts from Quirke, Cork enjoyed a purple patch with points from Goulding (free), Ciarán Sheehan, who showed his strength against Aidan O’Mahony, and Paddy Kelly.

With the scoreline standing at 1-05 to 0-05, Declan O’Sullivan ended an 11-minute scoreless spell for the Kingdom. The former captain soon notched his third point of the afternoon, outmanoeuvring a struggling Canty.

Kerrigan had a point disallowed for over-carrying and Cork failed to score coming up to the break. At the other end, Kerry threaded over three more points.

An inch-perfect through ball from Donaghy teed up Kieran O’Leary, Donnchadh Walsh grafted hard to create a score for Bryan Sheehan and then Declan O’Sullivan picked off his fourth, set up by the strong-running Killian Young and Cooper.

All that left the Rebels 1-10 to 0-05 adrift and it could have been worse - O’Connor’s charges hit eight wides in the opening 35 minutes.

Declan O’Sullivan broke away from John Miskella to add to Kerry’s tally, just 13 seconds into the second half. But Goulding breathed some much-needed life into Cork’s play with a free and a point on the turn.

Cork wing-forward Sheehan injured his left knee and was stretchered off after falling awkwardly when challenging for a ball, adding to Conor Counihan’s worries.

Kerry kept picking off scores - Walsh landed one to mark his 27th birthday and Sheehan followed up with a majestic point off his right boot.

At 1-13 to 0-07 ahead, the green and gold were coasting and Cork were almost out for the count. It took speedy corner-forward Kerrigan to ignite them again, his forceful carries punishing a tiring Kerry defence.

The Nemo Rangers clubman had a strong run and point and then Goulding tagged on a free after a foul on Paudie Kissane. When Goulding had a shot blocked, Kerrigan was there to sweep over the rebound.

Suddenly, Kerry were on the back foot and it was Cork dictating the play. Their midfielders Alan O’Connor and Aidan Walsh came more into it, raiding forward under the hot sun.

Coming up to the hour mark, Cork created a rare goal-scoring chance. Kerrigan’s initial shot had Kealy beaten, but the retreating Marc Ó Sé handled the ball on the ground near the goal-line and gave away a penalty.

O’Connor placed his shot perfectly into the right corner of the net and gave his side further momentum at 1-13 to 1-10.

Alan O’Connor intercepted a pass and drove through to make it a two-point game. Kerry were desperate for a point, defender O’Mahony flicking a poor effort wide from close range.

Moments later, Kerrigan picked up a breaking ball to race through the middle and whittle Kerry’s advantage down to the minimum.

Cork were now forcing the issue and Kerry had a couple of let-offs, with Aidan Walsh kicking wide after a terrific catch from his midfield partner O’Connor.

With three minutes of normal time remaining, O’Connor broke forward again and passed for John Miskella to clip a shot off the left hand post from a tight angle.

Five minutes of injury-time were announced and Kerry produced one final, match-winning spurt. Experienced defender Eoin Brosnan powered forward to fist over Kerry’s long-awaited 14th point.

Goulding missed a long range free as time ran out on Cork, and it was left to Legion youngster James O’Donoghue to finish off a flowing move and seal another Munster crown for his county.

Kerry: Declan O’Sullivan 0-05, Darran O’Sullivan 1-00, Colm Cooper (0-01f), Kieran Donaghy, Bryan Sheehan 0-02 each, Kieran O’Leary, Donnchadh Walsh, Eoin Brosnan, James O’Donoghue 0-01 each

Cork: Daniel Goulding 0-05 (0-03f), Donncha O’Connor 1-01 (1-00 pen), Paul Kerrigan 0-03, Ciarán Sheehan, Paddy Kelly, Alan O’Connor 0-01 each

KERRY: Brendan Kealy; Shane Enright, Marc Ó Sé, Tom O'Sullivan; Aidan O'Mahony, Eoin Brosnan, Killian Young; Anthony Maher, Bryan Sheehan; Darran O'Sullivan, Declan O'Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh; Colm Cooper (capt), Kieran Donaghy, Kieran O'Leary.

Subs used: Barry John Keane for O’Leary (53 mins), Micheál Quirke for Sheehan (57), Daniel Bohane for Enright (63), James O’Donoghue for Darran O’Sullivan (67).

CORK: Alan Quirke; Jamie O'Sullivan, Graham Canty (capt), Michael Shields; Noel O'Leary, John Miskella, Paudie Kissane; Alan O'Connor, Aidan Walsh; Ciarán Sheehan, Paddy Kelly, Pearse O'Neill; Daniel Goulding, Donncha O'Connor, Paul Kerrigan.

Subs used: Eoin Cotter for O’Sullivan (half-time), Fintan Goold for Sheehan (41 mins), Eoin Cadogan for Kissane (49), Denis O’Sullivan for Miskella (70), Fiachra Lynch for Kerrigan (70+1).

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)