Focus: the last three Munster football finals revisited

Cork and Kerry prepare to do battle for another Munster Championship. Have we been here before?

KERRY AND CORK’S domination of the Munster football championship has not been broken since 1992, and the biggest rivalry in the game is renewed this Sunday at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The Score takes a look back at the last three finals, where Limerick twice tried – and failed – to break the stranglehold of the big two.

Kerry and Limerick players before the start of the match in Fitzgerald Stadium (INPHO/Cathal Noonan)

2010: Kerry edge a ding-dong battle

Kerry won their first Munster football title since 2007 but it was a tight affair against Limerick, who mounted a fine second half comeback to test Jack O’Connor’s side. The Treaty County had actually enjoyed the better of the first half, leading their more illustrious opponents 0-10 to 0-07.

O’Connor’s men suddenly clicked into gear, blasting home 1-7 without reply, only to see a John Galvin-inspired Limerick fight back and threaten to take the Munster championship away from either Cork or Kerry for the first time since 1992.

Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s side drew level in the game with 11 minutes remaining but the Kingdom’s greater experience told. Points from Colm Cooper, David Moran and Tomás O’Sé saw them home with a 1-17 to 1-14 win.

Limerick goalkeeper Sean Kiely saves from Cork’s Daniel Goulding. (INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

2009: Cork scrape it by a point to leave Limerick reeling

If the following year’s tussle proved to be a gripping final, it had nothing on the 2009 clash between Conor Counihan’s Cork side and O’Sullivan’s men. This was to be Limerick’s first Munster final since losing to Kerry in a 2004 replay and they fought Cork all the way for the title.

Limerick led for much of the game but the pivotal moment came with the introduction of Colm O’Neill, Cork’s U21 star, midway through the second half. Up to that point the greater tenacity of Galvin and co. had seen Limerick build a sizable lead, and this despite a fortuitous Cork penalty for Donncha O’Connor, but O’Neill brought a physical presence that the Treatymen could not cope with as the clock counted down.

He played a vital role in the build up to Daniel Goulding’s crucial goal, and Cork ran out winners by 2-6 to 0-11.

Pearse O’Neill and Darragh O’Se square up. (INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

2008: Cork triumph as Kerry lose their discipline

It was all about Cork’s second-half performance at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, as they secured revenge over their most bitter of rivals for the previous year’s reversal.

The Rebels’ feat was made all the more impressive by the fact that they had overturned a huge eight-point half-time deficit to win by five points. The Kingdom had opened up a massive 1-08 to 0-03 interval lead and the situation was made all the more dire for Cork when Nicholas Murphy received his marching orders for a second yellow card only four minutes into the second period.

However, as with the introduction of Colm O’Neill a year later, Counihan played the ace up his sleeve by bringing on the towering Michael Cussen. Kerry could not cope with the 6′ 6” attacker and his goal – when he connected with a Ger Spillane delivery – was to prove massively important, especially when Kerry corner-back Tomás Ó Sé was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Seán O’Brien.

Cork outscored Kerry 1-13 to 0-03 in a stunning second half fightback. Kerry totally unravelled and another O’Sé brother, Darragh, was sent off for a tussle with Pearse O’Neill. The match finished 1-16 to 1-11.

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