Cadbury Munster U21 Football Championship – Kerry 0-19 Cork 1-8

Kerry defeated Cork by 0-19 to 1-8 in the first round of the Cadbury Munster Under 21 Football Championship on Saturday at Austin Stack Park Tralee.

Rebels blown away by rampant Kerry

Kerry 0-19 Cork 1-8

By Fintan O’Toole for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, March 15, 2010

THIS was as mystifying as the corresponding fixture last year. Just like 12 months ago, the sense beforehand was that Saturday afternoon’s Cadbury’s Munster U21FC quarter-final in Austin Stack Park would be a finely-balanced and competitive clash. Instead Kerry produced a supreme display that completely immobilised Cork’s challenge, in a game that was as crazily lopsided as last season’s encounter. Cork, parading a large chunk of players who went on to win the 2009 All-Ireland U21 title, were in high spirits entering this game but their performance was hugely inept. They are not as poor as this sub-standard showing would suggest, in the same way that Kerry’s players clearly could not be dismissed after their meek display last year. But Cork were powerless against a Kerry side that looked irresistible. There were promising signs in Kerry’s opening-half play and with a healthy 0-10 to 1-4 advantage at the interval, they cut loose in the second-half. They restricted Cork to just a single second-half point until the dying embers of the game and chalked up nine points themselves as their offensive threats gave a scoring master class.

Manager John Kennedy revealed that he had urged his players at half-time to maintain their high first-half standards. “There was a nice breeze there and we felt at half-time that we still had plenty work to do. But the lads were very hungry and they fought for everything, particularly when it came to winning the ugly ball. “We didn’t allow Cork into the game at the start, which was important as they’d been very dominant at the start last year. We’d great leaders but it’s just the first game and if we lose in Dungarvan next week, no one in Kerry’s going to remember this game.” In the Cork camp afterwards, there was a disheartened feel to the post-mortem. Injuries impeded their progress, with hamstring victim Aidan Walsh unable to start, yet selector Mick O’Loughlin refused to proffer that in mitigation. “Kerry played outstandingly well and it’s as simple as that. The injuries didn’t help us but you have to hand it to them. We came down and thought we’d a good chance, but while we were competitive in the first 10 minutes, we couldn’t get into it after that. Johnny Buckley was outstanding at midfield and because of him we couldn’t get the ball.”

O’Loughlin’s decision to name check Buckley when reflecting on the game got right to the crux of the matter. Kerry’s control of this match stemmed largely from another tremendous midfield performance by the Dr Crokes man. Their ploy of using Daithí Casey as a third midfielder was also productive and they possessed a plethora of forwards who had sharp moves, skilful touches and measured shooting. Both Barry John’s from Strand Road were in predictably electric form, but it was the impressive inputs of Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue that will please John Kennedy most. Cork had their moments of resurgence in the first-half, though. Initially they looked to be attuned to the pace of the game, Ciaran Sheehan and Jason Sexton galloping through for early points that left them 0-3 to 0-1 ahead. Even when Kerry pulled 0-7 to 0-4 clear, Cork were composed enough to fire up a response in the 24th minute when their best move of the match was crowned by an emphatic shot to the net by Barry O’Driscoll.

But that proved to be a blip best encapsulated by the astonishing fact that between the 24th and 59th minutes, Kerry outscored Cork by 0-12 to 0-1. Kerry’s relentless attacking in the third quarter heaped problems upon a beleaguered Cork side that simply could not get going. Ian Jones and Mark Collins tried valiantly to keep Cork going, and those efforts translated into three late points. But that did not alter the scoreboard in a meaningful manner as Kerry strode towards a last four meeting with Waterford in Dungarvan next Saturday.

Scorers for Kerry: BJ Keane 0-7 (0-2f), BJ Walsh (0-2f, 0-1 ‘45), P Geaney (0-1f) 0-4 each, J O’Donoghue 0-3, P O’Donoghue 0-1.

Cork: B O’Driscoll 1-2 (0-1f), C Sheehan 0-2, JP Murphy, J Sexton, E Keane, M Collins (0-1f) 0-1 each.

KERRY: T Mac an tSaoir; P Crowley, K O’Connor, B McGuire; P O’Connor, B Shanahan, J Lyne; J Buckley, C Moriarty; J O’Donoghue, BJ Keane, M Geaney; D Casey, BJ Walsh, P Geaney.

Subs: E Walsh for Moriarty (27), P O’Donoghue for M Geaney (56), D McElligott for Lyne (59).

CORK: S Mellet; R O’Sullivan, R Buckley, I Jones; M Hickey, K O’Driscoll, JP Murphy; C O’Donovan, E Keane; C Sheehan, M Collins, P Honohan; J Sexton, B O’Driscoll, A Holland.

Subs: M Cahalane for Holland (39), L Jennings for O’Sullivan (inj) (43), A Walsh for O’Donovan (45), E Buckley for Sexton (50), S Beston for K O’Driscoll (58).

Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare)

Click here for details about Kerry v Cork Munster SFC Final on July 2nd