The senior champs Kerry responded to the doubters of the last week with a performance that puts them front and center again in the conversations for dominance this year.
Against a Cork side that has shown that they have possibly the deepest panel in New York, Kerry gave as good as they got with New York starter Ross Wherity having an excellent outing for the side.
Cork will look at the result as a lesson learned and regroup. It was not a defeat but just a wakeup call to the county that is looking for its first senior championship title in close to 60 years.
The first score of the contest was a Brian Gallagher point, but Wherity equalized within moments when Gary O’Driscoll set him free. Kerry had a second minor from Ger McCarten, an excellent score, but it was at the end of a dominant period that resulted in three wides.
It was followed by the only goal of the game which came from the Rebels. A four player move that began in the hands of Adrian Morrissey, moving to Curran and Stafford, resulted in Jason Kelly shooting to the net from the full forward position.
Cork followed with a pair of wides, and the Kerry defense also nullified two attacks with timely interceptions before the Kingdom had a Willie Mulhall point with the assist going to Wherity, who was now dominating.
David O’Callaghan did have a point for Cork in reply, but that was their final tally of the half as Kerry took over on the field and scoreboard. Sweeney, Mulhall, Cahalane, and Wherity all hit the mark, but it was founded in the brilliant dominance of the midfield pairing of Mike Fitzgerald and Wherity. The Kingdom was sitting on a 0-9 to 1-2 advantage and victory in sight.
Cork responded to whatever was in the water at the break, of the speech from Pat Scanlon in the best way possible. They were on level terms within eight minutes of the restart with the forward line showing their undoubted abilities.
Hugh Curran, Dave O’Callaghan with two, and Shane McCarthy started the onslaught while Brian Gallagher also had a goal bound shot stopped by Jer O’Sullivan.
O’Callaghan added two frees for Cork, but Wherity and Mulhall cancelled them out as the sides went score for score. In fact neither side could pull away as Kerry was locked in a close contest for the second week in a row.
With five minutes on the clock O’Callaghan, who was playing against his home county, put Cork ahead with a point from the tightest of angles. There was still time for an equalizer, however, and it was Man of the Match Wherity who conjured it out of nothing.
The Kingdom will have a lot to say going forward, and the form of Wherity will leave them feeling very pleased. Jer O’Sullivan made a couple of very timely stops that kept the side in the game, with Fitzsimmons, McCormack, Kelly and McCarten strong at the back.
The pairing of Mike Jim Fitzgerald and Wherity finally clicked with both putting in powerful hours. New man Willie Mulhall showed he is a big addition, while Anthony Sweeney and Gary O’Driscoll both had good moments.
It was a good wake up call for Cork. The race is a six horse one, but the Rebels are still out in the leading pair or three. Raftery, Ryan, and Denis O’Sullivan all performed well. Dave O’Callaghan was outstanding. Curran and McCarthy were able accomplices.
Cork: 1 Gary Lowney, 2 Donagh O’Sullivan, 3 Alan Raftery, 4 Cormac Ryan, 5 Keith Scally, 6 Paul O’Connor, 7 Dennis O’Sullivan, 8 Brian Gallagher (0-2), 9 Rory Stafford, 10 Sean O’Neill, 11 Shane McCarthy (0-1), 12 Adrian Morrissey, 13 David O’Callaghan (0-6), 14 Jason Kelly (1-0), 15 Hugh Curran (0-1). Subs: John Power, Mickey Lenaghan, Ger McCarthy, Darren Walsh, Cathal Hatzer, Shaun McNamee, Caolan McLoughlin, Derek Courtney, Michael McSweeney.
Kerry: 1 Ger O’Sullivan, 2 John Fitzsimmons, 3 Conor McCormack, 4 James Huvane, 5 Ger McCarten, 6 Sean Kelly, 7 Ronan McLoughlin, 8 Mike Fitzgerald, 9 Ross Wherity (0-4), 10 Keelan Hickey, 11 Niall Farrell, 12 John Curran, 13 Anthony Sweeney (0-3), 14 Gary O’Driscoll (0-1), 15 Willie Mulhall (0-4). Subs: Danny Cahalane, Conor Ryan, Kieran O’Connor, Robbie Moran.
Referee: Sean Jones.
Man of Match: Ross Wherity (Kerry).