Sometimes you can dissect a game too much. It is, after all, just football. You catch it, you pass it, you score.
Kerry and Cork brought all that is perfect about the game to the foreground on Sunday as they served up a brilliant exhibition of the ancient sport for the fans who had stayed around late into the evening to watch.
In the aftermath of the Cavan vs. Monaghan, encounter it brought the folks to the edge of their seats again. You certainly need the players for an exhibition like this, and in Ger McCarten, Sean Furlong, PJ Banville, Ciaran McCarten and Dave O’Callaghan, some of the best were on the field.
It was a game that swayed and froed throughout. The difference was a 2-5 burst from Kerry midway through the second half that clinched the verdict.
Goals from Niall Farrell when the rejuvenated Robbie Moran set him up, and a brilliant team worked effort from the former New York captain were surrounded by a flurry of points from man of the match Furlong to finally put space between the sides 3-12 to 3-7.
It had started so differently. Cork opened the scoring in the first half with a 20 yard strike to the net from Adrian Flynn in the first minute. Following a Furlong point from a free, the Rebels added a Sean O’Neill point then cancelled out a Ross Wherity score with goal number two, a brilliantly finished goal from O’Callaghan.
When O’Callaghan cancelled out a Moran chipped point with a free on 20 minutes, Cork had a five point lead and looked in command. Paul O’Connor and McCarten were controlling the defensive center, while Flynn and O’Callaghan were causing problems up front. Kerry, as it is their history, closed the half on top with Moran, Gary O’Driscoll, Furlong and Banville all hitting the mark.
Moran started the ball rolling with a cracking finish for a goal to narrow the gap, with O’Driscoll firing over after a three player move set him free.
It was now a free flowing Kerry attack and they had Cork back on their heels. O’Neill and O’Callaghan had points the first after a soft free, the second a delightful chip but Kerry negated them with a closing three point salvo to leave just one between the sides 2-4 to 1-6 for Cork.
Cork again had a perfect start to open a half when Flynn had the easy task of fisting to the net when a four player move that went through the hands of Scally, Mickey Leneghan, and O’Callaghan gave no chance to Jer O’Sullivan.
After a Furlong free, he was now clicking with a number coming on his favorite right side. Cork added points from O’Callaghan again and Leneghan.
At 3-6 to 1-07 and 25 minutes left one would have favored a Cork win. Akin to Mayo in Ireland however, the expected never materialized.
This time Kerry were the aggressor. With Moran and Furlong inspired, the Kingdom were in control.
The final goal was a gem, started by McCarten who was now coming to terms with O’Callaghan. McCarten finally stopped the bleeding with a point from play when he soloed to the 30 and chipped over,
Cork: 1 Gary Lowney, 2 Michael Furlong, 3 Paul O’Connor, 4 Cormac Ryan, 5 Keith Scally, 6 Ciaran McCarten (0-1), 7 Alan Raftery, 8 Rory Stafford, 9 Connell Kelly (0-1), 10 Sean O’Neill (0-2), 11 Adrian Flynn (2-0), 12 Brian Gallagher, 13 Dave O’Callaghan (1-4), 14 Shane McCarthy, 15 Mick Leneghan (0-3). Subs: Caolan McLoughlin, Darren Courtney.
Kerry: Jer O’Sullivan, 2 Ronan McLoughlin, 3 Kieran O’Connor, 4 Conor McCormack, 5 Sean Kelly, 6 Anthony Sweeney, 7 Ger McCarten, 8 Mike Fitzgerald, 9 Colm Kehoe 10 Niall Farrell (1-0), 11 Robbie Moran (2-1), 12 Ross Wherity (0-1), 13 Sean Furlong (0-8). 14 PJ Banville (0-2), 15 Gary O’Driscoll (1-2). Subs: Dan Cahalane, Keelan Hickey, James Huvane.
Man of the match: Sean Furlong (Kerry).
Referee: John Fitzpatrick.