Kingdom crowned Munster Champions after edging Cork
It took extra time to separate these two sides by just the slimmest of margins on a wet and windy afternoon in this Munster Junior Championship Final. It was Player of the Match Patrice Diggin who sealed the deal for Kerry when she made no mistake in pointing from a 35 metre free in the dying minutes of extra time. In fact, Diggin accounted for all but one of Kerrys scores and she proved to be the difference between these two sides on the day.
These two teams last met in the Munster Junior Semi Final in 2016 and it was Cork who held a five point advantage over Kerry to progress to the final on that occasion. However, it was Kerry who showed their tenacity this time out to edge Cork after it took extra time to separate the sides.
Cork bolted into a three point to one lead by the 12th minute through an Aisling Wallace point and two Christine O’Neill frees either side of a Diggin placed ball just inside the 45 metre line. However, just two minutes later Kerry were level after Diggin slotted over under pressure, and Aoife Behan punished a short Cork clearance to split the posts. Four Diggin frees and a fine effort from play during a ten minute spell between the 14th and 24th minute saw Kerry draw level and then open up a five point lead before Rachel Harty moved the scoreboard for Cork with a well taken effort on the 28 minute mark to see the leedsiders trail by four. With the short whistle looming Cork won a penalty when Harty was fouled in the square. O’Neill stepped up but her low drilled shot to the right was saved by Alannah Maunsell who had a fine game between the posts for Kerry. Wallace pulled one back for Cork when she pointed from a Cliona O’Callaghan pass to see the defending champions trail by three at the break.
On the resumption Harty pointed before O’Neill slotted over a placed ball to bring Cork to within one of Kerry inside five minutes of the second half. Not long after being introduced Michelle Browne made an instant impact when her tight angled shot dipped over the keeper and into the net to put Cork two ahead on 37. A Diggin free kept Kerry in touch before Harty put two between the sides again with 10 minutes remaining. A super Diggin point from just inside the 65 metre line ensured that the closing minutes provided a gripping end to the contest. A brace of Diggin frees looked like Kerry had shaded it, however, after some confusion with the officials after what appeared to be a Cork goal, the referee gave a clash ball on the 20 metre line, before a foul was committed and O’Neill pointed the resultant free deep in injury time to see the game go to extra time.
In the first period of extra time Sinead Mills pointed which proved to be Corks final score of the day. In comparison Kerry through their reliable free taker Diggin registered two placed balls in either half to see Kerry crowned Munster Champions after a hard and testing battle in Killeedy GAA grounds.
Cork: M. Hurley, Clonakilty, C. O’Keeffe, St. Vincents, D. Carroll, Enniskeane, E. Flanagan, Aghabullogue, N. Crean, St. Vincents, G. O’Leary, Sliabh Rua, C. Daly, Killeagh, C. O’Neill, Courcey Rovers, L. Cunningham, Glen Rovers, O. Coughlan, Enniskeane, E. Looney, Inniscarra, C. O’Callaghan (capt.), Newtownshandrum, A. Twohill, Newtownshandrum, R. Harty, Ballyhea, Aisling Wallace, Glen Rovers.
Subs: M. Browne, Mallow for A. Twohill (35), S. Mills, Brian Dillons for C. Daly (42), N. O’Leary, Cloughduv for O. Coughlan (47), M. Hyde, Glen Rovers for R. Harty (69).
Kerry: A. Maunsell, M. Costello, N. Leen, L. Houlihan, O. Young, S. Murphy, E. Ryall, O. Dineen, P. Diggin, R. McCarthy, L. Collins, AM Leen, A. Whelan, J. Horgan, A. Behan.
Subs: J. Fitzell for A. Whelan (47), N. Casey for A. Behan (50), S. Horgan for E. Ryall (55).
Cork: M. Browne 1-00, C. O’Neill 0-04 (0-3f, 0-0145), R. Harty 0-03, A. Wallace 0-02, S. Mills 0-01
Kerry: P. Diggin 0-13 (0-10f, 0-0145), A. Behan 0-01
Referee: Philip Dee, Limerick