Kerry have exacted revenge against Munster champions Cork by destroying them 3-19 to 2-07 in the Bank of Ireland All-Ireland Football semi-final at Croke Park. The defeat at the hands of the Rebels in the provincial championship decider caused Kerry a great amount of pain but today's phenomenal display will have erased the disappointment of that loss. Kerry led by nine points at the interval and with Cork losing two players in the second-half, there was no way back for Larry Tompkins' men against the supremacy of the Kingdom.
Kerry's determination was evident from the start as they opened up a 0-06 to 0-00 lead within the first ten minutes, with points from Dara Ó Cinnéide, Colm Cooper, Liam Hassett, Mike Frank Russell (two) and Dara Ó Sé. Colin Corkery finally broke Cork's duck with a marvellous point from a difficult angle on 11 minutes and after a tough ten minutes, it seemed as if Cork were finally getting to grips with the pace and sharpness of the Kerry attack.
However, by the 20th minute, Kerry led 1-08 to 0-01 after Russell and Cooper both added to their points tally. With eight points on the board, Russell pulled away from the attentions of Anthony Lynch to strike with his left-foot low and hard into the bottom corner of the net.
It was obvious by this stage that Cork were failing to cope with the threat of the Kerry fowards and several positional switches were made amongst their backs but to no avail as Kerry pulled further ahead.
Corkery reduced the deficit with two further points but Cooper netted a wonderful goal on 29 minutes when he found himself in plenty of space and by the half-hour mark, Kerry led 2-08 to 0-03. Cooper extended Kerry's advantage with another point before Fionán Murray became the second Cork player on the scoresheet. With just a minute of normal time remaining in the first-half, Philip Clifford earned Cork a life-line after a rare mix-up in the Kerry defence allowed him in to score a goal. However, there was no doubt that it had been Kerry's half, and they led at the interval 2-10 to 1-04.
Cork's frustration was beginning to show early in the second-half as Kerry scored two early points through Ó Cinnéide and Cooper and both Graham Canty and Corkery were shown yellow cards. Tomás Ó Sé also picked up a booking for Kerry as they continued to exert their dominance with further points from Ó Cinnéide and Hassett.
Cork's hopes were lifted when Murray netted their second goal on 52 minutes to reduce the deficit to nine points, 2-14 to 2-05 and there was no questioning their passion, evident on the face of Corkery when referee Brian White disallowed his goal having already whistled for a free-in for a foot block. Corkery put that free over the bar, leaving only eight points between the sides but they failed to capitalise on this, producing two bad wides that would and should have further reduced the deficit.
Corkery did score a point on 57 minutes that could so easily have been a goal and with seven points now between the teams, a few minutes of madness put this game beyond Cork's reach. There had already been several scuffles between the players but the game reached boiling point when Fionán Murray and Tom O'Sullivan ended up involved in a punching match on the ground and both were sent off by White immediately for their actions.
Within seconds, Corkery, the scorer of five points and a pivotal member of the Cork attack, found himself following the disgraced pair down the tunnel after White showed him a second yellow card for protesting at his earlier decision to send off the fighting players.
With Cork down to 13 players (and Kerry down to 14), seven points behind their opponents and only ten minutes remaining, it seemed any chance the Rebels had of fighting back was lost, and so it proved. Cooper and Russell added further points before Eoin Brosnan's half-chance found the back of the net after a mix-up between keeper Kevin O'Dwyer and defender Sean Levis, and Kerry found themselves fortuitously leading 3-16 to 2-07. Two more points from Russell and a point from substitute Aodhan MacGearailt were the nails in Cork's coffin on a day they will want to forget for more reasons than one.
Filed by Amanda Fennelly