Kerry sent us all searching through the record books after defeating Cork 3-18 to 2-4 in a runaway victory in the magnificent revamped Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday last. It’s the biggest winning margin since 1938 and Kerry were complete masters in the one-sided match.
Cork got off to a dream start playing into the city goal in the first half. The game was just 80 seconds old when they worked the ball up the left wing. Following good work by Ruairí Deane and a nice ball across the Kerry goalmouth, it was an easy tap-in for Jamie O’Sullivan and there was little Shane Murphy could do about the inevitable goal. It was the dream start for Cork, but it did not rattle Kerry. They responded well in the 5th minute when David Moran made a mark with a clean catch from the kick-out and parted to Stephen O’Brien, who set of on his trademark runs through the Cork defence and scored Kerry’s opening goal. Cork bounced back for their second goal in the 9th minute and once again it was Ruairí Deane who did the good approach work. It was a replica of the first goal with Mark Collins adding the final touch.
At this stage it looked as if Cork were going to make a real game of it as they led 2-0 to 1-2. They added a point and it is hard to believe that they went to 2-1 and that was their last score until the 45th minute when they added another point. They scored three more points late in the game and that was all Cork could manage. Just six scores in total over 70 minutes tells its own story for a bewildered Cork team as they were brushed aside by a rampant Kerry side who took complete control and scored at will. They chalked up the points with good support play all-round and led 1-11 to 2-1 at the interval.
They lost the influential Stephen O’Brien to a black card in the 27th minute and he was replaced by Kevin McCarthy. Cork also lost two players to black cards. Sam Ryan gave way to James Loughrey in the 19th minute and Deane was replaced by Paul Kerrigan in the 32nd minute. They seemed to be harsh calls. Ruairí Deane in particular was a big loss to Cork, as was Stephen O’Brien for Kerry.
Darran O’Sullivan came on for Micheál Burns at half time but he made little contribution. He was a good player in his younger days but last lost that dash. The same can be said for Donaghy and Killian Young who came on in that second half. Once again I was impressed by Seán O’Shea and David Clifford. They are blending in well . O’Shea ended with four points and Clifford scored two points, but once again it was Paul Geaney who shone brightest of all, ending with a remarkable tally of 2-5 and all of these scores were from play. The Dingle man is invaluable for the Kerry attack.
Kerry did well at midfield as they were up against Aidan Walsh and Ian Maguire. When the Cork goalkeeper Mark White went long with the kick-outs, David Moran and Jack Barry were able to win clean ball. White also tried the short kick-out but Kerry were so dominant that they pressed up on these and for the most part they were able to deny Cork possession.
The Kerry defence settled well after the first 10 minutes and once again Gavin White was the outstanding defender. He can solo with both legs and his up-field sallies, especially in the second half, were a joy to behold. He has a wonderful turn of speed which is so much part of today’s game. He scored a point from one of these long runs out of defence. Kevin McCarthy did well when he came in but I would like to see him take his own score instead of passing it off. He is unselfish but needs to score more himself to nail down a place in the starting 15.
My match notebook showed a succession of Kerry points including two from Paul Murphy who was caught for the first goal but recovered well. James O’Donoghue was on the ball quite a lot and ended with three points, one from a free. Barry John Keane kicked a point after coming in late in the game for O’Donoghue in the 59th minute.
How good are Kerry? They have done what has been asked of them and brought in huge scores against Clare and Cork. They have not been tested in a close contest so the next game in two weeks’ time against Galway will provide a closer examination of their progress. They have exceptionally good scoring forwards and there is an intensity to their game in the tackle which will stand to them throughout the field. The two goals they conceded early in the Cork game would have knocked another team but Kerry have youth in their side. Remember there is no one over the age of 30 in the starting 15.
Last week alone, the Kerry U-17s, the juniors and the seniors all recorded big wins. Meanwhile, the Dubs are winning by big margins also and what we have seen to date suggests that Kerry are the only team capable of taking on the All-Ireland champions. Well done to Kerry.
The newly revamped Páirc Uí Chaoimh is a credit to the Cork County Board.
KERRY: S Murphy (c); J Foley, P Murphy, T Morley; B Ó Beaglaoich, P Crowley, G White; D Moran, J Barry; M Burns, S O’Shea, S O’Brien; D Clifford, P Geaney and J. O’Donoghue.
Subs for Kerry: K McCarthy for S O’Brien (black, 26); D O’Sullivan for M Burns (h-t); M Griffin for J Foley (54); K Donaghy for D Clifford (55); BJ Keane for J O’Donoghue (59); K Young for T Morley (64).
Scorers for Kerry: P Geaney (2-5); S O’Shea (0-4, 1 free, 2 45s), J O’Donoghue (0-3, 1 free); S O’Brien (1-0); D Clifford, P Murphy (0-2 each); G White and BJ Keane (0-1 each).