1. The stunning margin of Kerry’s win
You have to go all the way back to 1977 for an occasion when Kerry had more to spare over Cork in a Munster senior football final. They triumphed by 15 points in that game 37 years ago but running out 12-point victors this afternoon in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was equally as impressive.
It was a stunning statement of intent by Kerry and firmly establishes their credentials for the season ahead. The game had been forecast as a tight affair with Cork slight favorites yet Kerry shredded those assumptions and ran out comfortable victors.
2. James O’Donoghue shows Allstar form
2013 saw James O’Donoghue come of age as a senior inter-county player with his brilliant two-goal salvo against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final helping him earn an Allstar accolade by the end of the season. His importance to the Kerry cause was further emphasized when Colm Cooper’s season ground to a halt when he tore his cruciate in February.
The news of O’Donoghue damaging his shoulder and missing the Munster semi-final against Clare was a source of anxiety for Kerry. But he was back in harness today and produced a display of attacking wizardry. A haul of 0-10 after an afternoon tormenting the Cork defence saw him deservedly land the man-of-the-match award.
3. Cork’s limp and ineffective showing at home
Six years ago Cork trailed Kerry by eight points at half-time in a Munster senior football decider in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Yet they turned matters around remarkably that day with the introduction of Michael Cussen providing the springboard for an eventual five-point win. As they trailed by 0-13 to 0-5 at the break today, the optimists in the home support would have hoped for a repeat showing.
Cork did rouse themselves early in the second-half to cut the arrears to five points but were then subdued again as Kerry took control. Overall it was a limp and ineffectual showing from the Rebels at home with the difficulties they experienced against Tipperary last time out manifesting themselves once more. Manager Brian Cuthbert couldn’t hide his disappointment afterwards and the Cork players looked aghast after a crushing defeat at home.
4. Kerry’s young guns stand tall
With big names like Paul Galvin, Tomás Ó Sé and Eoin Brosnan having shuffled into retirement – and coupled with the injury loss of Colm Cooper – there were vacancies in the Kerry team to be filled. Today their young players stood up and helped produce a consummate display.
Back in 2011, Kerry were hammered by Cork by 22 points in a Munster U21 football final. Three years on, Brian Kelly, Paul Geaney, Stephen O’Brien and James O’Donoghue all delivered sterling showings on the senior stage. Paul Murphy, Fionn Fitzgerald and Johnny Buckley also put their hands up with convincing showings. Eamon Fitzmaurice will be quietly pleased with how his young guns fared as he heads towards the All-Ireland series.
5. The challenge ahead for Cork
Heading the backdoor route is now a new experience for Cork after a Munster football final. They lost the 2011 and 2013 provincial senior deciders but bounced back on each occasion to reach the last eight in the All-Ireland series. Indeed you have to go back to 2004 for the last time they didn’t reach that stage of the championship.
But resurrecting their season after this humbling defeat will be difficult. Their dual players scheduling shows little signs of abating. New prospect Ruairi Deane’s season looks to be over after tearing his cruciate.
They were comprehensively beaten at midfield today and that resulted in their full-back line being cleaned out with no protection in front of it. Up front only Daniel Goulding and Brian Hurley scored from play with Hurley’s solitary point being a fisted effort right at the death. The qualifier draw does look favorable for them but there’s several issues that they need to get sorted.