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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 19 July, 2018

Deadly Kerry forward duo, Cork rue goal chances and Fitzmaurice five-in-a-row

Plenty to digest after today’s showdown in Killarney.

Alan O'Connor and Jack Barry battle for a kickout.
Alan O'Connor and Jack Barry battle for a kickout.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

1. Geaney and O’Donoghue in deadly form

By the 3rd minute both Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue had inked their names on the scoresheet. By half-time they had hit 0-4 apiece and by the final whistle Geaney had finished up with 1-5 while O’Donoghue rounded off with a tally of 0-7.

That combined haul of 1-12 matched the corresponding total posted by the entire Kerry team. It spoke volumes for the speed of movement and thought displayed by the Dingle-Killarney Legion double act. They were a class apart and a threat that Cork could simply not stifle.

2. Cork squander goal chances

Two years ago when Cork came desperately close to knocking Kerry out, their ability to plunder three goals was a key reason why they nearly managed to unseat the Kingdom. Today they failed to raise a green flag, something that was essential if they were to take down the overwhelming favourites.

There was no shortage of opportunities. Ian Maguire rushed through in the 12th minute before being crowded out as he attempted to side-step goalkeeper Brian Kelly. Tomas Clancy almost capped a surging run from deep after half-time before firing a shot into the side-netting.

Paul Kerrigan saw a shot tipped away at point-blank range by Kelly and then in the dying moments, Luke Connolly blazed over when he had escaped the clutches of the Kerry defence. Squandering those four chances was a factor in ending their aspirations here.

3. A five-in-a-row for Fitzmaurice

35 years after Kerry football was left deflated after a famous five-in-a-row bid was halted at the final hurdle, they today managed to achieve a five-in-a-row feat in more local environs. Between 2013 and 2017, the Kingdom have reigned supreme on the Munster senior football stage with today’s success marking their fifth consecutive provincial crown.

It’s a honour that Eamonn Fitzmaurice won’t publicly boast about but he can privately cherish. He has yet to lose a game as manager in the Munster senior football arena. The 2015 draw against Cork is the only blot on his provincial copybook with 11 victories otherwise during his tenure. Today their dominance was pronounced again.

4. Cork can’t bridge gap to the champions

It was always a tough task facing Cork given their recent struggles to find good form and the considerable punch that Kerry are currently packing. Slow and sluggish starts to both halves of play proved major setbacks to any plans to spring a surprise. They were six points adrift by the 19th minute and while they cut the gap to four at the break, the margin had increased to nine points by the 41st minute.

There were other problem areas with the rearguard overwhelmed by the relentless supply to Kerry’s danger men, the difficulties in gaining a foothold on their own kickout at midfield and the struggle to post scores.

Kerry converted 11 of their 12 chances in the first-half in stark contrast to Cork notching seven scores from the 15 openings they created. All those trends contributed to the gap that existed between the champions and the challengers here.

5. No Fitzgerald Stadium fireworks for the fans

31,836 supporters filed through the turnstiles today with Fitzgerald Stadium bathing in sunshine as Kerry and Clare faced off in the minor curtain-raiser. There’s been a catalogue of bruising battles down through the years and the hope here was that the Big Two in Munster could conjure up another game crackling with electricity.

Instead this was a drab match that never sparked into life, largely down to the manner in which Kerry bossed this from pillar to post. There was some brief interest generated by improved play from Cork before the break yet Kerry ensured this was a done deal long before the final whistle.

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Kerry complete Munster title five-in-a-row as they storm past Cork

Clifford and O’Sullivan star as Kerry cruise to 24-point Munster minor final win

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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