HomeFootballKerry minors retain Munster title with minimal fuss as they march into...

Kerry minors retain Munster title with minimal fuss as they march into All-Ireland quarter-finals after 15-point win over Cork

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Gearoid White scored eight points – six from play – for the champions while Austin Stakcs club mates Ben Murphy and Ronan Carroll supplied the goals for the Kingdom

Cork 1-6

Kerry 2-18

A majestic first half performance, inspired by will-o’-the-wisp wing-forward Gearóid White, gave an extremely impressive Kerry the cushion that they needed to, convincingly, retain the Munster MFC title with a comprehensive destruction of a shell-shocked Cork.

In front of a sizeable crowd at Páirc Uí Rinn, manager Wayne Quillinan had demanded an improvement in the shooting accuracy from his charges, especially at the outset of proceedings, and he will have been thrilled at what he witnessed throughout the opening 30 minutes, and thereafter.

From winning the throw-in, leading immediately to a pointed Ronan Carroll free after a foul on midfielder Killian Dennehy, the visitors showed that they meant business on the night. Indeed, were it not for two goal chances being missed, they would actually have been out of sight at the interval.

As it was, with Gavin O’Keeffe like a magnet to the ball in the half-back line, Ruadhán Donovan sticking tight to one of the Rebels’ principal attacking threats, Dylan O’Neill, and Aodhna Ó Beaglaoich heavily involved at centre-back, Kerry had the ideal platform to supply a fast-moving attack.

With the Cork kick-out under fierce trouble to boot, and with the mercurial White quickly dictating proceedings from the half-forward line, the Kingdom really hit the ground running. The John Mitchels attacker was simply sensational, far too elusive for any of the home defenders.

Kerry had four points on the board (White, Ben Murphy and Michael Horan all on target) before Cork registered their first score in the tenth minute through the dangerous Danny Miskella. Any chance, however, of that producing a spark from Haulie O’Sullivan’s outfit was almost instantly quelled.

By the end of the first quarter, the visitors had moved five points to the good, 0-7 to 0-2, the outstanding White with three points on the trot for Kerry (off both left and right foot), with Mallow’s Ben O’Shea raising a white flag for the beleaguered Rebels.

At that stage, Jack Joy had been foiled of a Kingdom goal by a smart, smothering save from Cork custodian James O’Flaherty and, in the 17th minute, Kerry almost struck for a green flag, but Ruairí O’Connell blazed narrowly wide of the far post, hitting the umpire in the process.

Cork were only hanging on for dear life, however, and with White taking his tally to five points (all from play) before the break, and wing-back Seán Ó Cuinn and Joy lofting over excellent scores, to a solitary Cork response from Sean Whelton, the Kingdom led by eight points, 0-11 to 0-3, at half-time.

Kerry’s Jack Joy in action against Cork players Joe Mouret, Oisin Harrington and Cian Cooney during the Munster Minor Football Championship Final at Páirc Ui Rinn

Making two substitutions on the resumption, Cork badly needed to fly out of the traps in the second half, but with self-belief shattered, they were stuck to the ground. On the contrary, Kerry emerged as if they still had to keep their foot on the throttle. There was no sign of settling for what they had.

White (who else) fired over the opening point on the changeover, full-forward Carroll (a hugely effective fulcrum of the attack all evening) quickly added another, and when Cork’s Cian Cooney couldn’t find the net in the 34th minute (on two occasions), any chance of gaining momentum was terminated.

To make matters worse, Whelton picked up a black card which reduced Cork to 14 for ten minutes (adding insult to injury). By the time the wing-forward returned to the fray at the end of the third quarter, Kerry were cruising towards the finishing line, 1-16 to 0-4.

The opening goal arrived in the 38th minute when O’Keeffe and Ó Cuinn combined to set skipper Murphy careering straight through the heart of the Cork defence. Showing composure and ruthlessness, the Austin Stacks tyro rattled the net with a right-footed bullet.

Ballincollig wing-forward Miskella, who kept battling against the odds, saw his spot-kick saved by Kerry goalkeeper Kacper Robak in the 48th minute, but he was on hand to bury the rebound. Quite simply a consolation score, but it at least showed that Cork were prepared to fight to the conclusion.

In saying that, the contest petered out, to a degree, in the closing quarter, with Kerry knowing that they had their work done, as both benches were emptied. Carroll, growing in confidence as the game progressed, coolly dispatched a penalty of his own in the 54th minute, 2-17 to 1-4.

Kerry captain Ben Murphy lifts the cup after Munster Minor Football Championship Final win over Cork

The Kingdom number 14 was also responsible for his side’s final two points of the contest (one from play), with Cork suffered the ignominy of a second black cards in the dying moments – this one dished out to Carbery Rangers’ O’Neill. It was simply a night to forget for the Rebels.

Thankfully, from a Cork perspective, they will have an opportunity to redeem themselves in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Kerry, for their part, have laid down a serious marker. The manager said he wanted the support to see their true potential. They certainly got a glimpse of it in this blistering display.

KERRY: Kacper Robak (Dr Crokes); Fionnán Ryan (Austin Stacks), Michael Lynch (Milltown/Castlemaine), Ruadhán Donovan (Annascaul); Seán Ó Cuinn (An Ghaeltacht) 0-1, Aodhna Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht) 0-1, Gavin O’Keeffe (Finuge); Ben Murphy (Austin Stacks) 1-1, Killian Dennehy (Cordal); Gearoid White (John Mitchels) 0-8 (2f), Joey McCarthy (Spa), Jack Joy (Ballymacelligott) 0-1; Ruairí O’Connell (St Senans), Ronan Carroll (Austin Stacks) 1-5 (0-3fs, 1-0 pen), Michael Horan (Scartaglin) 0-1. Subs: Eanna Murphy (Listry) for O’Connell (44), Cian MacGearailt (An Ghaeltacht) for Horan (45), Eoin O’Flaherty (Ardfert) for F Ryan (48), Oisin Fleming (Killarney Legion) for Joy (53), Ned Ryan (Dingle) for Dennehy (56).

CORK: James O’Flaherty (Douglas); Oisín Harrington (Kilmeen), Aaron Keane (Kinsale), Joe Mouret (Douglas); Cathal McCarthy (St Colum’s), Cian O’Connor (Ballincollig), Niall O’Shea (Urhan); Harry Cogan (Glanmire), Jack Trench (Ballinora); Danny Miskella (Ballincollig) 1-3, Ben O’Shea (Mallow) 0-1, Seán Whelton (St James) 0-1; Humphrey Canty (Newcestown), Cian Cooney (Clyda Rovers), Dylan O’Neill (Carbery Rangers) 0-1(f). Subs: Billy Ryan (Glenville) for O’Connor (ht), Daniel Mellerick (Nemo Rangers) for B O’Shea (ht), Ben Delaney (Carrigaline) for Trench (40), Finn O’Dwyer (Cullen) for Canty (44), Cian Ahern (Ballincollig) for Harrington (55).

REFEREE: Donnacha O’Callaghan (Limerick)

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