Seán Meehan of Cork and Seán O'Shea of Kerry do aerial battle in Killarney. Bryan Keane/INPHO
Munster SFC

Kerry see off hearty Cork challenge to reach provincial decider

The Kingdom were unconvincing as they were made to work hard for a three-point win.

Kerry 0-18

Cork 1-12

Paul Brennan reports from Fitzgerald Stadium

KERRY MOVE ON to a Munster final after a most unconvincing three-point win over Cork, and that might just be the way they will want it.

One thing is for sure: few will be talking the Kingdom up as proper All-Ireland contenders after this performance, but Kerry will take the win and move on. They have little other option now.

It took the defending Munster champions 50 minutes to get out in front of a Cork team that started brilliantly but seemed to leave most of their energy and ideas behind them in the first 15 minutes of the game.

At that stage the Rebels had raced into a 1-6 to 0-5 lead, helped by Paul Walsh’s goal in the fifth minute and Paudie Clifford’s goal miss in the sixth minute, but beyond the 20th minute it was the Cork of old – plenty of perspiration but light on inspiration.

Ahead of a 17,568 crowd under welcome sunshine at Fitzgerald Stadium, Cork took the lead in the first minute through Conor Corbett and then Walsh struck for the game’s only goal after neat approach play from Brian O’Driscoll and Ian Maguire. Too soon to think they might get their first Championship win in Killarney since 1995? Probably.

Points from Dara Moynihan, Cillian Burke (on his championship debut) and Tom O’Sullivan had the scores level, 1-1 to 0-4, after 10 minutes before livewire Brian Hurley converted three points in a five-minute spell to put Cork in control again.

By the 18th minute Cork were 1-6 to 0-5 ahead, but they would only manage another half dozen points in the remaining 57 minutes. A pair of points each from Sean O’Shea and David Clifford – the latter having a very off day by his standards – sheared Cork’s lead to just one at the interval, 1-7 to 0-9.

Hurley found the range with a couple of frees in the third quarter but Kerry were starting to find a little more rhythm and energy, and Moynihan, O’Shea and Tom O’Sullivan converted before David Clifford’s point in the 50th minute put the Kingdom ahead for the first time.

Thereafter it all played out as expected. Though Cork were still within a point by the 57th minute, Graham O’Sullivan, Sean O’Shea and Tom O’Sullivan iced a point apiece for Kerry with only Hurley really carrying the same scoring threat for the Rebels.

Cork needed a second goal to get back into it, but it never really looked like coming. They will take plenty of heart from their best 70 minutes of the season and have some time now to fine-tune themselves for the All-Ireland series.

Kerry move on to a Munster final in a fortnight where improvement will be expected, though not necessarily required.

Scorers for Kerry: S O’Shea 0-6 (3f), D Clifford 0-4 (1f), T O’Sullivan 0-3, D Moynihan 0-2, G O’Sullivan 0-1, C Burke 0-1, P Geaney 0-1

Scorers for Cork: B Hurley 0-8 (4f), P Walsh 1-0, C Corbett 0-2 (1m), M Taylor 0-1, C Óg Jones 0-1

Kerry: 1. Shane Ryan; 2. Paul Murphy, 3. Tadhg Morley, 4. Tom O’Sullivan; 5. Graham O’Sullivan, 6. Gavin White, 7. Seán O’Brien; 8. Diarmuid O’Connor, 9. Joe O’Connor; 10. Adrian Spillane, 11. Paudie Clifford, 12. Cillian Burke; 13. David Clifford, 14. Seán O’Shea, 15. Dara Moynihan

Subs: Paul Geaney for Burke (ht), Stephen O’Brien for A Spillane (48), Mike Breen for S O’Brien (62), Tony Brosnan for D Moynihan (64), Barry Dan O’Sullivan for J O’Connor (71)

Cork: 1. Christopher Kelly; 2. Kevin Flahive, 3. Daniel O’Mahony, 4. Maurice Shanley; 5. Luke Fahy, 6. Tommy Walsh, 7. Matty Taylor; 8. Ian Maguire, 9. Colm O’Callaghan; 10. Paul Walsh, 11. Seán Powter, 12. Brian O’Driscoll; 13. Chris Óg Jones, 14. Conor Corbett, 15. Brian Hurley.

Subs: Sean Meehan for M Shanley (35+1), Ruairí Deane for S Powter (45), Steven Sherlock for Jones (53), Mark Cronin for P Walsh (58), Kevin O’Donovan for T Walsh (inj, 60).

Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)

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