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All-Ireland SFC: Kerry survive Cork test

Paudie Clifford, Kerry, and Maurice Shanley, Cork, in action at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Paudie Clifford, Kerry, and Maurice Shanley, Cork, in action at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

All-Ireland SFC Group Two

Kerry 1-14 Cork 0-15

By Stephen Barry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Kerry earned two precious points on Leeside to get their All-Ireland defence back on track, albeit without showing the class that got them up the steps of the Hogan Stand.

They led from pillar to post, but Cork never stopped nibbling away at them, with David Clifford’s 47th-minute penalty, after Seán Powter was sent to the sin bin, giving Kerry enough of a cushion. Clifford outscored the Rebels by 1-2 to 0-1 in that 10-minute spell with an extra man. He ended with 1-5.

Their first meeting back at Páirc Uí Chaoimh since Mark Keane’s shock strike knocked the Kingdom out of the Covid Championship in 2020 ended with another high ball raining down on the Kerry defence. This time, 14,081 fans were present to see them hold out.

They join Cork and Mayo on two points in Group 1, with the Westerners to meet winless Louth tomorrow.

Seán O’Shea showed sparks of his 2022 form from the off. He was well up for this one, fist-pumping his first from play in the seventh minute (one of three early points set up by Paul Geaney) before adding two more. Maurice Shanley was soon switched to pick him up.

Shanley’s run had created Cork’s opener for Chris Óg Jones, with Brian O’Driscoll and Brian Hurley (free) keeping them in touch.

Kerry kicked three in a row thereafter to push them four up, with Adrian Spillane, Paudie Clifford, and O’Shea keeping them in control.

Powter was deployed as the Cork sweeper, while Paul Murphy took up the free role at the other end. Powter did advance with a skillful give-and-go for a deflected point as both defences denied goal chances.

Daniel O’Mahony was trusted with tagging David Clifford and they shared an engrossing duel. Clifford got off the mark in the fifth minute but O’Mahony dispossessed him twice shortly after.

Clifford retreated further outfield as the rate of scoring began to dwindle. He launched one missile between the posts from outside the 45 on the half-hour to end a nine-minute scoreless spell. He soon found himself playing crossfield passes within his own 45 as Cork seemed pleased to keep Kerry within sight against the wind.

A Hurley free brought them within one score but Paudie Clifford made it 0-9 to 0-5 at half-time.

Jack O’Connor sent Ruairí Murphy on for Spillane at the break but it was Cork who got the jump on the restart.

They had four points inside seven minutes against one O’Shea free, with scores from Hurley (a mark and a free), Powter with a turn of pace, and Killian O’Hanlon, who fired a potential goal chance over.

The heat was being turned up in the Páirc Uí Chaoimh sun, with the crowd getting involved, but one turnover would turn to disaster for the hosts.

Powter coughed up possession after taking a wrong turn, Jack Barry sent Geaney into space and he exchanged a one-two with Tom O’Sullivan.

Powter, desperate to make up for his mistake, brought Geaney down, and David Gough issued a black card and awarded a penalty.

David Clifford stepped up and sent the goalie the wrong way.

Kerry would stretch their lead to five with the man advantage thanks to two more Clifford points before Powter’s return. 1-12 to 0-10 with 13 minutes to go.

Cork kept fighting and their subs were making an impact, with Eoghan McSweeney scoring with his first touch and a huge Steven Sherlock point helping to cut the gap to two.

David Clifford burst through a packed defence to point but it didn’t quite settle Kerry. The Rebels raided back upfield to send Sherlock in on goal but he blazed over from a tight angle.

Clifford laid off to O’Sullivan, his engine still carrying him from end to end, for a tap-over, insurance point in the 73rd minute.

McSweeney’s final score came with time all but up.

Scorers for Kerry: David Clifford 1-5 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), Seán O’Shea 0-5 (2fs), Paudie Clifford 0-2; Tom O’Sullivan, Adrian Spillane 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: Brian Hurley 0-6 (5fs, 1m), Seán Powter, Eoghan McSweeney, Steven Sherlock 0-2 each, Brian O’Driscoll, Killian O’Hanlon, Chris Óg Jones 0-1 each.

Kerry: Shane Ryan; Graham O’Sullivan, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan; Paul Murphy, Tadhg Morley, Gavin White; Diarmuid O’Connor, Jack Barry; Dara Moynihan, Seán O’Shea, Adrian Spillane; Paudie Clifford, David Clifford, Paul Geaney.

Subs: Ruairí Murphy for Spillane (h-t), Stephen O’Brien for Moynihan (61), Tony Brosnan for Geaney (62), Barry Dan O’Sullivan for Barry (65), Micheál Burns for P Clifford (70+2).

Cork: Mícheál Aodh Martin; Maurice Shanley, Rory Maguire, Kevin O’Donovan; Luke Fahy, Daniel O’Mahony, Matty Taylor; Colm O’Callaghan, Ian Maguire; Brian O’Driscoll, Ruairí Deane, Killian O’Hanlon; Seán Powter, Brian Hurley, Chris Óg Jones.

Subs: Steven Sherlock for Jones (48), Eoghan McSweeney for O’Hanlon (59), John O’Rourke for Deane (65), Blake Murphy for Hurley (70+2), Tom Clancy for R Maguire (70+2).

Referee: David Gough (Meath).