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Electric Ireland Munster MFC Final: Kerry defeat Cork

Kerry players and supporters celebrating at Austin Stack Park. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Kerry players and supporters celebrating at Austin Stack Park. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Electric Ireland Munster MFC Final

Kerry 2-10 Cork 0-11

By Paul Brennan at Austin Stack Park

Kerry are back on top of the pile in Munster after wrestling the provincial title back off Cork in a tough, tight final in which two first half goals for the Kingdom proved the difference.

Having seen Cork win the last two Munster titles – as well as winning their recent quarter-final meeting in this year’s championship just a few weeks ago – Kerry were determined to regain the ascendancy over their old rival, and they did so with a slightly flattering five points to spare at a sunny Austin Stack Park in Tralee.

First half goals from Paddy Lane – who top scored with 1-5 – and Dara Hogan helped Kerry to a three-point half time lead, and though the home side never quite looked comfortable or in control for much of the second half, they did manage to put just enough distance between the teams to be able to enjoy the last couple of minutes.

For much of the game Cork looked every bit as good as Kerry, and better for parts of the contest, but those two goals proved an invaluable buffer for the Kingdom, and Cork never quite hit the scoring form they had shown in those earlier rounds against Kerry and then Tipperary in the semi-final.

Cork’s first point came a minute and 40 seconds into the game after they had owned the ball from the throw-in, Darragh Clifford finally rewarding their patience and control with the game’s opening score. Two minutes later Timothy Cullinane doubled Cork’s lead as the visitors looked every bit at home in this Munster final.

Kerry soon settled, however, and by the 12th minute they were in front, points from Paddy Lane (free), Tomás Kennedy and Sean Ó Cuinn putting them 0-3 to 0-2 ahead.

Dara Sheedy’s point levelled matters before Cork goalkeeper came forward to convert a 50-metre free kick to put the defending champions back in front, a lead that was doubled by their joint-captain Sean Coakley with a fine score under pressure in the 18th minute.

Kerry midfielder drew a late hit to earn a free that Lane converted, and two minutes later Lane had the ball in the Cork net, taking a long pass in from his Austin Stacks club mate Ben Murphy and finishing with a powerful shot from an acute angle.

Cullinane and then Odhran Foley replied with Cork points but then Murphy turned provider again, this time driving forward before setting up Dara Hogan for a neat finish from close range to leave Kerry ahead at the break, 2-4 to 0-7.

It took Kerry 17 minutes of the second half before they scored – a Lane free – by which time had scored three points to level the score, 2-4 to 0-10, but Lane converted another free a minute after Tomás Kennedy had doubled Kerry’s lead.

Sheehy converted a Cork free to cut the gap to two again by the 53rd minute but they wouldn’t score again for the remaining 14 minutes as Kerry found three more scores. Subs Paudie Fitzgerald and Stephen Gannon had one each, while fittingly Lane converted the last score, a free, after Cork full back had hauled Fitzgerald, earning him a red card (a black to go with an earlier yellow) as Cork finished with 14 men.

Kerry will play Leinster runners-up, Kildare, next weekend with Cork to face Leinster champions Dublin in a pair of All-Ireland quarter-finals next weekend.

Scorers for Kerry: P Lane 1-5 (5fs), D Hogan 1-0, T Kennedy 0-2, S O Cuinn 0-1, S Gannon 0-1, P Fitzgerald 0-1

Scorers for Cork: D Sheedy 0-3 (1f), T Cullinane 0-3, B Curtin 0-1 (f), O Foley 0-1, D Clifford 0-1, D O’Leary 0-1, S Coakley 0-1

Kerry: James Hoare, David Mulvihill, Ben Murphy, Issac Brosnan, Padraig Moynihan, Keelan O’Shea, Gearoid Evans, Evan Boyle, Daniel Kirby, Darragh O'Keeffe, Tomás Kennedy, Sean Ó Cuinn, Dara Hogan, Oisin Healy, Paddy Lane.

Subs: Paudie Fitzgerald for D O’Keeffe (40), Aaron Kennelly for O Healy (43), Stephen Gannon for S Ó Cuinn (44), Pa Walsh for D Hogan (52), Aodhna O Beaglaoich for B Murphy (64).

Cork: Billy Curtin, Niall O’Shea, Frank Hurley, Matthew Ahern, Odhran Foley, Gearoid Daly, Trevor Kiely, Mark O’Brien, Darragh Clifford, Timothy Cullinane, Dara Sheedy, David O’Leary, Denis O’Mullane, Sean Coakley, Oier O’Callaghan.

Subs: James O’Leary for D O’Mullane (HT), Mark Hetherington for D Clifford (42), Cathal Mullins for O Foley (52), Gary Holland for T Cullinane (57), Sean O’Leary for T Kiely (61).

Referee: Eoin Morrissey (Waterford).