Heaviest defeat of Kerry by Cork in the past 25 years

April 8th, 2014
by Weeshie Fogarty

For the big crowd of Kerry supporters who made their way to Austin Stack Park last Sunday for the latest chapter in the Kerry/Cork saga the expectations of a close hard exciting game were on most minds. This of course followed on Kerrys winning displays against Tyrone, Kildare and Westmeath, three games three wins and indeed expectations were high that we would witness a win or at least as they say an "honorable defeat". What was to unfold before their disappointed gaze was something no one could have expected in their wildest dreams.  This was the heaviest defeat ever inflicted by Cork on a Kerry side since the 1990 Munster final demolition, (2-23 to 1-11). This was a humiliating beating, make no mistake about it and certainly copper fastens the fact which I have been expounding here for the last few weeks that this is a Kerry team in transition. And the fact that Kerrys four losses in the earlier stages of the league came at the hands of Mayo, Dublin, Derry just emphasizes the fact that they with Cork and being in the league semi-finals have moved that step ahead of Kerry in their development and there is a lot of catching up to be done.

While there was just one point between the teams at the short whistle it was evident that things were not as they should be and despite playing with a strong wind the home side were struggling to make inroads in the Cork defense. Paul Geaney's goal had put a better look on the score board and then when Paul Kerrigan skipped unchallenged through the open Kerry defense to shoot low to the net before half time we were witnessing a taste of what was to come in the second half.  And that second 35 minutes is something that all the Kerry players and management will have to examine and think about very closely indeed. It was a complete collapse really and I may be completely wrong here and I hope I am but in that second half as I watched from the broadcasting box there were vivid remainders and worrying similarities of what we had seen over the last decade in some to the recent Kerry/Cork under twenty one Munster championship games.  Is our failure in that grade in recent years and the complete domination of Cork now beginning to surface? Who will ever forget that embarrassing 2-24 to 0-9 trouncing in the 2011 Munster under twenty one final in Cork when a number of the present Kerry/Cork senior players were also on display. Corks success and Kerrys failure as we also witnessed this year in that grade will I have no doubt play a massive part on all senior clashes between the counties in senior grade in the coming years.

Last Sunday in that second half there was not one redeeming feature, it was complete failure and Eamon Fitzmaurice the genuine passionate man that he is will know that the next eleven weeks before their championship debuts will demand total and utter dedication and hard work and the mid night oil will be well and truly burned by the management team. But his big problem now is, no competitive game in the run up to the championship following this defeat.  So what caused the second half collapse last Sunday?  We can only speculate. Kerry looked jaded, leaden footed, second to the breaks, simply out played as the superb Brian Hurley literally tore the Kerry full back line to shreds. Why was not Mark Griffin moved from him earlier? Hurley was magnificent, kicking seven glorious points from play. His exhibition was one of the best I have ever seen from a Cork forward in a league game. The home side were playing second fiddle in all sections of the field as the Kerry supporters looked on in disbelief and the introduction of six subs only added to the misery. The longer the game went on the more disjointed the Kerry display became. I have been banging on here for a long time how crucial good, experienced substitutes are in the modern game and in direct contrast to Kerry the Cork line appear to be blessed with a greater depth of talent at present. Paul Kerrigan listed as a sub but started, Colm o Neill came on and scored a brilliant goal and then the excellent Daniel Goulding and Donnacha o Connor added greatly to the Cork cause when called upon.

The Cork method of play and this was the first time the Kerry public have seen this new Rebel set up (and remember seven of last years panel retired), is simple. Their two wing forwards fall back behind their mid field leaving four forwards up ahead with loads of open spaces and it was these spaces that completely exposed the Kerry full back line as Kerrigan and Hurley scored 1-11 between them. This game was all about Cork make no mistake about it. New manager, new players, new style of play, new rules. (I.e. the black card) and a ten point winning margin over the age old enemy. We certainly don't intend to play the prophet of doom and gloom but hopefully what we saw last Sunday was a once off and come championship time the eleven weeks work to be done and that Portugal training camp will pay rich dividends. Eamon Fitzmaurice will be relieved to have Declan o Sullivan, Killian Young and Kieran Donaghy back to add that badly needed experienced and depth to his squad and see Darren Sullivan recovered from that damaged hamstring sustained last Sunday. Finishing up the league with a defeat of this extent will be a big worry for the management but Kerry are Kerry and we still have vivid memories of that magnificent display in the All ireland semi final last year against Dublin which came out of no where. Hope springs eternal in the world of Kerry football but for me the memories of those under age defeats by Cork in the past decade worries most of all.

Fogra; Heartiest congratulations to Kerry hurling manager Eamonn Kelly, his players and back room team on their magnificent league win last Sunday. He has done an unbelievable job since being appointed and the way he has reversed the counties hurling fortunes is a credit to all involved. Then are a credit to The Kingdom.

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom