Cork are Munster U20 football champions after delivering a clinical display against old rivals Kerry at Pairc Ui Rinn this evening.
In the end, 13 points separated the sides with Keith Ricken's men netting three second-half goals – two of which came in the dying stages – through Blake Murphy, Fionn Herlihy and Cathal O’Mahony to put a rubber stamp on victory.
In a game where Jack O’Connor’s fancied side simply fell flat, the electric hosts hit the ground running in front of the 2,758 spectators in attendance by opening up a 0-7 to 0-1 lead inside the first 12 minutes as O’Mahony (2), Damien Gore and Mark Cronin (2) laid siege on the holders’ defence.
Kerry twice narrowed the margin down to three before eventually going in at the break down 0-10 to 0-6 thanks to a sweet Murphy score a minute shy of the half-hour mark.
An O’Mahony free saw the young Leesiders pick up where they left off three minutes into the restart and they soon had the ball in Kerry’s net after some fine work from centre-forward Murphy, who took max profit when the opportunity presented itself.
The St Vincent’s man’s strike made it double scores (1-11 to 0-7) with 36 minutes played and the victors would up their advantage to 10 before Donal O’Sullivan swung over a free at the other end to stop the rot.
It left the Kingdom needing goals in the final quarter that just never came their way as a stingy Rebel defence, back-boned by Maurice Shanley and Shane Hickey, held out while Josh O’Keeffe blossomed between the posts throughout.
Fiachra Clifford’s frees left the trailers with an outside chance for the last 10 minutes but any hope for O’Connor’s team went up in smoke once Murphy slipped Herlihy through and the Dohenys man did the rest from a slim angle.
That was game, set and match before full-forward O’Mahony added insult to injury with Cork’s third goal in injury-time, rifling to the roof of Kerry’s net, ensuring a sixth Munster Under 20/21 title for his county in this decade.
Cork - J O’Keeffe; M O’Mahony, M Shanley, P Ring; G O’Donovan, S Meehan, P O’Driscoll; B Hartnett, D O’Connell; C Barrett (0-2), C O’Callaghan (0-1), M Hodnett; M Cronin (0-5), C O’Mahony (1-5, 0-1f), D Gore (0-2). Subs: B Murphy (1-1) for M Hodnett, F Herlihy (1-0) for C O’Callaghan, J Murphy for C Barrett, J McCarthy for G O’Donovan, S Hickey for S Meehan.
Kerry - B Lonergan; D McCarthy, D Casey, M Potts; C Gammell (0-1), P Warren, S O’Leary (0-1); J O’Connor, B Mahony; S Horan, E Horan (0-3), A Donoghue; F Clifford (0-1), D O’Sullivan (0-5, 4f), K Falvey. Subs: C Ferriter for K Falvey, N Donohue for D McCarthy, B Friel for S Horan, C O’Donoghue for D Casey, P O’Shea (0-1) for J O’Connor, P Walsh for F Clifford.
Referee - A Kissane.
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