Cork 1-11 Kerry 0-10 by Colm Keys
A snapshot of the black card when there is real business to deal with presented itself in Mallow as Cork drew first blood in 2014 against their old rivals.
For more than 60 minutes Munster’s protagonists, for the most part, were on best behaviour, adjusting the temperature settings commensurate with the early season sufficiently without ever having to apply too much heat.
Once, possibly twice, Tipperary referee Derek O’Mahony opted for yellow cards when there may have been a temptation to show black. But as Kerry began to cut into Cork’s six-point lead at the three-quarter mark old habits were just too hard to dispense with.
The McGrath Cup it may be, but these rivals don’t tend to yield too much ground to each other at any stage of the season and with the line in sight, little acts of desperation crept in.
In a four-minute spell between the 63rd and 66th minute, Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahony and Cork’s Fintan Goold and Michael Shields were all punished for tackles with merited black cards.
O’Mahony was on the field for less than 10 minutes for his seasonal reappearance when he was heading off again, quickly followed by Goold and Shields as the match entered its one and only “frantic” stage.
“I thought they were all black cards,” reflected Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice afterwards. “I thought Derek O’Mahony refereed the game fairly. That’s why the black card was brought in, so I wouldn’t have any problem with it.
“I’d say that’ll be the pattern. As players fatigue and the stakes get higher — we had it back to a goal at the end — the game was getting a bit frantic. That’s probably when black cards are going to happen in games,” he added.
His Cork counterpart Brian Cuthbert wasn’t exactly singing off the same hymn sheet, drawing attention to those other fouls he felt might well have been categorised as ‘black’. But he too is still registering broad approval for its introduction.
“There were some things there that I thought could have been black cards and Kerry got yellows. There were other things… I felt one of the black cards was a small bit harsh. When the league settles down and the thing pushes on, it probably will be a good rule.”
Cork won this game in the third quarter when they turned a 0-5 to 0-4 interval deficit into a 1-9 to 0-6 lead when Daniel Goulding slipped a free on 51 minutes. They showed far more economy in that spell than their rivals, who were so profligate in the first half, converting just five of the 16 scoring chances that they created, as Cork goalkeeper Ken O’Halloran came to the rescue with two fine saves, particular the one from Donnchadh Walsh after Paul Geaney knocked Peter Crowley’s delivery into his path on 31 minutes.
Barry John Keane will also feel he should have done better as he batted over a point on 28 minutes after great approach work from Alan Fitzgerald and Paul Geaney that gave Kerry a 0-4 to 0-2 lead.
Kerry could easily have established a five-or six-point lead in this period, but too often had productive moves killed off by Eoin Cadogan and Michael Shields in the Cork full-back line.
“We just didn’t function up front today,” said Fitzmaurice. “You get days like that. It would be more worrying if we weren’t creating the chances. This time last year we weren’t creating them. We created them today, but didn’t convert them today.”
Despite the defeat, Fitzmaurice can be reasonably pleased with aspects of the Kerry performance.
In Jonathan Lyne and Peter Crowley, he has two players who look like they can really develop this season. Lyne looks like being earmarked for the defensive half-forward duties that Paul Galvin, who again featured at centre-back when he came on in the 54th minute, has clocked in to do for the best part of a decade.
Lyne, however, was was able to chip in with two points, while Crowley’s responsibilities as a half-back look set to grow in the wake of Tomás ó Sé and Eoin Brosnan’s retirements.
Mark Griffin, who made the breakthrough last year, is another interesting prospect.
He handled Goulding well in the first half, but at times he can almost commit too much and was lucky that Goulding fired over for only a point on 24 minutes after exposing Griffin’s exuberance to get to James Loughrey’s delivery. Is he a risk worth taking?
Mikey Geaney and Keane were others to catch the eye, but David Moran and Bryan Sheehan appear to have distances to travel yet.
Cuthbert will begin the process of sizing his league panel over the next two weeks, a process he envisages as being “cut-throat” in nature. “There was a lot of players who moved on by their own accord before Christmas,” he said.
“There was huge talk about how are we going to replace them and it is going to be hard, but certainly in terms of desire, effort and enthusiasm, any of the fellas that we have training with us can’t be faulted and they are all pushing to get in.
“over the next couple of weeks, we will be finalising the National League panel and it’s going to be cut-throat, to be honest. That’s the nature of the beast, that’s inter-county football and once everybody understands everything is done in the best interests of the group, I think nobody could have any complaints.”
Aidan Walsh and Cadogan will both link up with the Cork hurlers for training tomorrow night for the first time this season as they seek to strike a balance between both squads.
Scorers — Cork: D Goulding 0-4 (2fs), J Hayes 1-0, P Kerrigan 0-2, A Walsh, D O’Connor (f), A O’Sullivan, M Shields, M Collins (f) all 0-1 each. Kerry: B Sheehan (2fs, 1 ’45), B J Keane (1f) 0-3 each, J Lyne 0-2, D Walsh, S O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
Cork — K O’Halloran; J McLoughlin, E Cadogan, M Shields; J Loughrey, T Clancy (Fermoy), K O’Driscoll; A Walsh, F Goold; A O’Sullivan, M Collins, C O’Driscoll; D Goulding, P Kerrigan, B O’Driscoll. Subs; D O’Connor for B O’Driscoll (44), J Hayes for C O’Driscoll (44), M Sugrue for Collins (54), B Hurley for Goulding (63), M O Laoire for Goold (64, BC), A Sheehan for Shields (67, BC).
Kerry — B Kelly; P Murphy, S Enright, M Griffin; P Crowley, J Sherwood, M Geaney; A Maher, D Moran; J Lyne, B Sheehan, D Walsh; B J Keane, A Fitzgerald, P Geaney. Subs: S O’Callaghan for Fitzgerald (h-t), M Mangan for Maher (45), P Galvin for Sherwood (54), A O’Mahony for Sheehan (54), B McGuire for M Geaney (63), B Shanahan for O’Mahony (63, BC)
Ref — D O’Mahony (Tipperary)