Kerry turned in a Jekyll and Hyde performance to secure their 74th Munster title with a three point win over Cork in Killarney today.
A first half of sublime football which saw the Kingdom County race into an 8 point half time lead was followed by a second half of intent and purpose from Cork which saw the come to within a point of the green and gold.
However in the end Kerry missing the skills of Paul Galvin held on for a narrow win to send Cork into the qualifiers.
The opening 35 minutes saw Kerry produce a master class in finishing as they stormed in to the lead with Darran O’Sullivan starring up front and scoring a sublime goal on 14th minutes.
Cork had started the game sprightly and looked lively however those opening minutes proved to be deceptive as Kerry took control of midfielder and started to rack up the scores. It took 5 minutes for the first score to arrive, Colm Cooper scoring with a free.
Three points in less than a minute than saw Kerry storm ahead with Donaghy, O’Sullivan and Cooper all scoring in quick successive to race into a four lead against the shell shocked All Ireland champions.
It took 12 minutes before Cork scored their opening score, Daniel Goulding scoring with a nice effort and a minute later Donnacha O’Connor got Cork’s 2nd.
Then the goal arrived, O’Sullivan taking the ball and rifling a shot in the back of the net to send the crowd into raptures and more importantly restore Kerry’s big advantage.
O’Sullivan nearly scored a second but Alan Quirke saved well, the ball coming off the keeper’s head and going wide.
After the frantic start it was inevitable the scoring would slow down and it was on the 20 minute mark before we saw the next point, Goulding adding his second and Cork’s third with a free.
That point appeared to kick start Cork with Sheehan adding another a minute later and Kelly getting a big kick as the Kerry scores dried up. In fact it was over 10 minutes before we the Kingdom County registered their next score, O’Sullivan with an effort on 27 minutes to put Kerry 1-07 to 0-05 ahead.
Points in the last few minutes from O’Leary, Sheehan and O’Sullivan saw Kerry head in at the half time whistle in control of the game.
Cork came out for the second half with more purpose and were helped by a scrappy opening to the second half which was very stop start. Both sides traded points in the opening 10 minutes of the second half with Cork losing Ciaran Sheehan to a serious knee injury.
With 19 minutes to go Cork reduced the lead to 6 points as Paul Kerrigan and Goulding started to show their skills then with 15 minutes to go Cork were handed a lifeline as Mark O’Shea stopped Kerrigan’s effort from crossing the line and up stepped Donnacha O’Connor to calmly slot the ball home.
Kerry were suddenly running out of steam and out of idea’s and had no answer to the questions that Cork were asking of them with Kerrigan, undoubtedly the star of the second half and O’Connor netting points to bring Cork to within a point of Kerry.
With four minutes remaining Cork had the chance to level it but Alan O’Connor elected to pass rather than score himself when bursting through the Kerry defence. John Miskella the receiptant of the pass hitting the post.
26 minutes since they last scored a point Kerry all but sealed the game when Eoin Brosnan netted a vital point and the win and trophy were sealed in injury time when sub James O’Donovan scored the final score of the day.
Despite winning Kerry boss Jack O’Connor will be worried by his team’s second half performance but if they can re-produce the first half display on a consistent basis then the rest of the country will be very afraid.
For Cork it’s another trip in the qualifiers but if any team knows how to win the All Ireland going down this route it’s the Rebels.
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