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convincing Kerry make superiority count against Cork to claim Munster SFC final place

Kerry 0-23 Cork 0-11

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Sean Powter of Cork in action against Diarmuid O’Connor of Kerry during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Kerry at Páirc Ui Rinn in Cork. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Sean Powter of Cork in action against Diarmuid O’Connor of Kerry during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Kerry at Páirc Ui Rinn in Cork. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Sean Powter of Cork in action against Diarmuid O’Connor of Kerry during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Kerry at Páirc Ui Rinn in Cork. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

You might have figured that the most interesting parts had already taken place, with a long squabble over the venue eventually settled by Kerry agreeing to Pairc Ui Rinn, and Cork undergoing a mid-season management change.

But for a long stretch Cork made a game of it before Kerry’s superiority told in the final 20 minutes.

The home side was within a point of the overwhelming favourites when the outstanding Cathail O’Mahony, in his first senior championship start, sent over his third point from play in the 49th minute.

But from there the difference told as Cork tired and Kerry started picking off scores, with Seanie O’Shea returning to the side and kicking 0-10, two from play.

After O’Mahony’s score gave the home support hope, Kerry extinguished it by outscoring Cork 0-12 to 0-1 from there to the finish.

And still they will shake their heads and say they were not on song. Kerry bombed their way to the national league and are favourites to win the Sam Maguire for the first time since 2014 while Cork won their last two matches to avoid relegation from Division 2.

They had their hopes further undermined by injuries although Ian Maguire and Sean Powter both passed fit to play.

Powter, named centre forward, dropped back to play a sweeper’s role and did so with marvellous efficiency until substituted in the second half.

The last home fixture between these sides in the championship brought a staggering result, a late goal stunning Kerry and ending their interest in the championship.

But last year saw merciless retribution with Cork trounced by 22 points in the Munster final, their heaviest ever defeat in the fixture.

With that in mind Cork packed their defence and had Powter keeping constant guard on overlaps. They managed it well but still it wasn't nearly enough to save themselves. They fielded had nine of the team destroyed by Kerry in Killarney.

John Cooper and Rory Maguire were newcomers in the backline, while O’Mahony in attack had a deeply encouraging start, causing Tom O’Sullivan serious discomfort.

Maurice Shanley, having played no part in the campaign due to injury, returned to full back.

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They defended heroically and allowed Kerry only one goal chance when David Clifford found an opening in the final ten minutes but Dylan Foley made a fine save. Foley replaced the injured Micheal Martin in the first half.

Jack O'Connor has made two changes from the Kerry team that defeated Mayo in the Division 1 final last month, with O’Shea replacing Dara Moynihan and Tony Brosnan selected ahead of Paul Geaney.

Brosnan had some good moments but had kicked a poor wide when hauled off, Geaney coming in to score two points. Clifford was well marked by Kevin Flahive and limited to just one point from play. But Kerry still found a way to win comfortably.

When Cork got to within a point 15 minutes after half time the crowd in the compact ground entertained hopes of a contest that might last to the whistle.

Kerry responded with a number of changes. Geaney had just come in and he was soon joined by David Moran and Paul Murphy. From here they bolted clear, the gulf between the sides becoming more pronounced.

Up to the Cork and competed well. Near halftime Clifford tried to break through the cover using a burst of acceleration and pure physique but got turned over over with Flahive in close attendance helped by two other Cork players.

The crowd cheered in appreciation. Cork were making Kerry sweat for every score, and remained in firm contention trailing by 0-9 to 0-7 at the interval, another Kerry raid foiled moments before the whistle when Shanley made a brilliant dispossession of Brosnan.

Stephen O’Brien was busy and central to Kerry’s most productive period in the first half when they opened up a four point lead 0-7 to 0-3 after 20 minutes.

Shanley picked up a yellow for a heavy challenge on O’Brien, the Kenmare man winning successive frees which O’Shea tapped over as Kerry began to dominate.

Cork ended a seven-minute spell without a score when Brian Hurley won a free after a strong run out of defence, following a turnover in the Cork half, and Steven Sherlock knocked over his fourth free.

Clifford went into the book for a foul on Powter and Kerry were unable to create a single goalscoring opportunity.

After Sherlock broke their scoring duck with his fourth free he kicked his team’s first from play after selling a beautiful dummy, and in the next play Cork added another, this time from O’Mahony.

When Jason Foley committed a clumsy foul on O’Mahony shortly afterwards Sherlock’s free levelled the sides by the 28th minute, Cork’s fourth unanswered. Of their seven first half points six came from Sherlock, six of them frees.

Kerry found a late first half response with points from Diarmuid O’Connor and Brosnan but they were surely expecting frank words in the dressing-room as they traipsed off an unconvincing two points to the good.

Scorers: Kerry - S O’Shea 0-10 (7 fs, 45); D Clifford 0-4 (3 fs), S O’Brien, P Clifford, P Geaney 0-2 each; T Brosnan, D O’Connor, M Burns 0-1 each. Cork - S Sherlock 0-6 (5fs); C O’Mahony 0-3; K O’Donovan, E McSweeney 0-1 each.

Kerry: S Ryan; T O’ Sullivan, J Foley, G O'Sullivan; B Ó Beaglaíoch, T Morley, G White; D O'Connor, J Barry; A Spillane, S O'Shea, S O’Brien; T Brosnan, D Clifford, P Clifford. Subs: P Geaney for Brosnan (48); D Moran for Spillane (49); P Murphy for O Beaglaoich (51); M Burns for O’Brien (63); J O’Connor for D O’Connor (67).

Cork: M Martin; M Taylor, M Shanley, K Flahive; K O’Donovan, R Maguire, J Cooper; I Maguire, C O’Callaghan; J O’Rourke, S Powter, D Dineed; S Sherlock, B Hurley, C O’Mahony. Subs: D Foley for Martin (inj 24); E McSweeney for Dineen (56); D Gore for Hurley (57); T Corkery for Powter (59); B Haye for O’Rourke (65).

Referee: B Cawley (Kildare).

Attendance: 10,743.

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