Munster Junior Football Final: Kerry Juniors ensure the golden spell of trophy winning continues
Kerry 2-14 Cork 1-15
By Mortimer Murphy
Kerry’s domination over their neighbour's Cork continued in this Munster Junior Football Final played in front of 1453 spectators at a sun kissed Austin Stack Park on Wednesday evening, thus completing five in a row at this grade to add to senior and minor success at the weekend.
This was a Kerry team who displayed great steel in the second half when Cork looked to be in the driving seat when they led by five points but Jimmy Keane’s troops refused to wilt in the searing heat and finished the stronger to complete the five in a row.
Kerry was superbly led by Captain Kieran Murphy who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and drove his team-mates forward. He fielded some great ball, broke Cork’s stranglehold at midfield and won both throw ins, with goal coming from his catch in the opening thirty seconds.
He got great support from Ronan Murphy who had a fine second half and Kerry look to have a very strong midfield pairing.
But this was a team win with goal keeper Darragh O’Shea making some fine saves when Cork broke through and his saves late on in the 62nd and 63rd minutes got his side over the line so the Ballydonoghue custodian delivered on the promise he has shown over recent years.
Trevor Wallace had a fine outing keeping tabs on Cork danger man Anthony O’Connor who was substituted and Twiggy had a great hour. Dan O’Brien is developing into a top class defender and he could see senior action in the future while Paul O’Sullivan displayed tenacity and toughness that marks him down as a top defender and in most counties he would be a senior player but the talent in the Kingdom is such that Paul is just unlucky.
Andrew Barry is an attacking centre back and he almost got scored a goal when denied by a great save by the Cork keeper but once he settled in at the back and curbed his forays into attack, he was another Kerry star. Patrick Clifford was marking one of Corks better players but he did well while the pacey Sean Moloney tormented Cork with his running and can feel well pleased by his performance.
The Kerry attack was superbly led by Paudie Clifford from Fossa and his direct running tormented Cork. He laid on Kerry’s goal, almost created two more when his punched effort across the square went directly into the net and when he was through on goal, he was taken down for a penalty which Kerry failed to convert. While Paudie has to live in the shadow of his more famous brother (not that he minds too much) he is clever footballer and was central to the Kerry win.
But the star of the attack in scoring terms was right half forward Evan Cronin who kicked five points from play in William Tell like fashion and as a fan in the stand uttered “If there was apple on the black spot on the crossbar, he would have demolished it! It was a sublime display of marksmanship from the Spa clubman and he probably would have to get the Man of the Match gong.
Lee Donoghue linked up well with his team-mates while his second half replacement Cillian Fitzgerald handled a lot of ball when he came on. Thomas Hickey is a class act and scored a peach of goal as well as being a handful for the Cork defence. While his penalty was well saved rather than missed, he possibly should have pointed the rebound.
Daniel Daly from St Mary’s had a fine game, took his goal well and in general was a thorn in the Cork side while Niall O’Shea had good opening half but a lot of ball did not come his way in the second. Padraig O’Connor did well when introduced; Chris Farley kicked a nice point while Brian Crowley only came on in injury time.
So well done to manager Jimmy Keane and his selectors, Pól Ó Cuinn, Daniel Murphy and John O’Connell who prepared the squad well without any competitive games and never panicked in the second half when Kerry were under the cosh.
Kerry got a dream start with a goal direct from the throw in when Kieran Murphy fed a marauding wing back Sean Moloney who linked up with Paudie Clifford and when he fed Thomas Hickey, he drilled the ball low past Cork keeper Chris Kelly with twenty seconds gone on the clock. Evan Cronin added a point from the kick-out and the large Cork following in the stand must have feared the worst.
But Cork did not panic and after Seamus Hickey’s attempt for a point came of the post, Eoghan McSweeney got Cork’s opening point. In fact for the rest of the half, Cork dominated the middle third and was getting through the Kerry defence far too easily.
Cork added points from Seamus Hickey and Anthony O’Connor to close the gap just a point but Niall O’Shea restored Kerry’s two point advantage. Andrew Barry forced Kelly into a good save in the 8th minute but Cork levelled by the 12th minute with points from Jerry and Anthony O’Connor.
Evan Cronin restored Kerry’s lead but Cork were now on top and the O’Connor’s and Seamus Hickey ensured Cork led 0-11 to 1-7 at the interval.
It was a gripping contest with Cork looking to be in the driving seat three minutes into the second period when Cork increased their 0-11 to 1-7 with a quick fire goal scored by wingback John Cronin and a Jerry O’Connor free to five points and Kerry 45th title at Junior level looked in jeopardy.
But Kerry responded with points from Man of the Match Evan Cronin and a Daniel Daly free before Jerry O’Connor ensured Cork had a four point lead in the 38th minute.
But Cork did not register another score for seventeen minutes as Kerry assumed control at midfield with Kieran Murphy playing a captains role while the pace of Paudie Clifford caused havoc in the Cork defence as he almost goaled in the 38th minute.
Then Clifford (older brother of David) was hauled down for a penalty Kelly saved Thomas Hickey’s attempt. However it merely galvanised Kerry as Paudie Clifford set up Daniel Daly to find the Cork net and level the contest.
Cork were now visibly tiring as Kerry attacked in droves points followed from Evan Cronin (2), Daniel Daly (free) and sub Chris Farley. Cork finally scored through Michael Vaughan and in six minutes of injury time, all they could muster was a Killian O’Hanlon point.
Kerry now faces Kildare in the All-Ireland semi-final on July 11th.
Scorers: Kerry: D Daly (1-4, 3 frees), T Hickey (1-2), E Cronin (0-5), K Murphy, N O’Shea and C Farley (0-1 each)
Cork: J O’Connor ( 0-5, 3 frees), J Cronin ( 1-0), S Hickey and A O’Connor ( 1free) 0-2 each, B Daly, K O’Hanlon, B Terry O’Sulivan E McSweeney, D Dineen and M Vaughan ( 0-1 each)
KERRY: Darragh Ó Sé (Ballydonoghue); Trevor Wallace (Ardfert), Dan Donohue (Spa), Paul O’Sullivan (Valentia); Patrick Clifford (Templenoe), Andrew Barry (Na Gaeil), Sean Moloney (John Mitchels); Kieran Murphy (Kilcummin), Ronan Murphy (Beaufort); Evan Cronin (Spa), Paudie Clifford (Fossa), Lee O’Donoghue (Glenflesk); Thomas Hickey (Castleisland Desmonds), Dan Daly (St Mary’s), Niall O’Shea (Dromid Pearses).
Subs : Padraig O’Connor (Gneeveguilla) for P Clifford (40), C illian Fitzgerald (Churchill) for L O’Donoghue (43), Chris Farley (Dromid Pearses) for N O’Shea (56), Brian Crowley (Templenoe) for T Hickey (63),
CORK: C Kelly (Éire Óg); P Clancy (Firmly), P Murphy (Bandon), D O’Regan (St Vincent’s); K Cremin (Boherbue), B Daly (Newmarket), J Cronin (Lisgoold); K O’Hanlon (Kilshannig), BT O’Sullivan (Garnish); S Hickey (Rockchapel), C Vaughan (Iveleary), E McSweeney (Knocknagree); J O’Connor (Boherbue), D Dineen (Cill na Martra), A O’Connor (Knocknagree).
Subs: R Harkin (Mallow) for B Terry O’Sullivan ( 45), M Vaughan (Millstreet) for A O’ Connor ( 48) D Cremin (St Michael’s) for J O’Connor ( 57) , C Dennehy (St Finbarr’s) for B Daly ( 57)
Referee; A Kissane (Waterford)