Three first-half goals secured Aidan O’Mahony’s MTU Kerry outfit a second Sigerson Cup win and, more importantly, a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Backing up their opening day victory over UCD, MTU Kerry again proved a difficult nut to crack on home soil as their heavily populated defensive effort limited the visitors to just two points in the opening 20 minutes and no score at all for a 20-minute period between the 25th and 44th minute.
Greg Horan, just over 48 hours after lining out for Austin Stacks in their Munster club final defeat, was hugely effective in the sweeper role, while Kerry hurling centre-back Fionán Mackessy, another to have played a competitive fixture on Sunday last, produced a fine-marking job on fellow countyman Gavin O’Brien.
The Cork defence was not so watertight down the other end of the Tralee campus field, with MTU Kerry finding the opposition net on four occasions.
Leading the assault on the travelling rearguard was the extremely lively Tony Brosnan, and it was his slicing inside the Cork cover that paved the way for the game’s opening goal as early as the third minute. MTU Cork ‘keeper Ryan Scully did extremely well to stop Brosnan’s low drive, but pouncing on the rebound was Mark O’Shea.
There followed four unanswered points from the home side to shoot O’Mahony’s troops 1-4 to 0-1 clear after 16 minutes.
Already noticeable at this early juncture was the sharp edge to proceedings, with this irascible feel continuing throughout the hour. Indeed, it was somewhat surprising that the overall yellow card count was as low as three (two to Cork, one for Kerry) given the nature of some of the exchanges, both on and off the ball.
Damien Gore, who was by a distance MTU Cork’s most dangerous forward, kicked only their second point on 17 minutes, but his side fell further behind shortly after when Tomás Ó Sé provided the assist to Ryan O’Grady and he slid home MTU Kerry’s second major of the evening.
The Cork response was an unanswered 1-1. Gore, as ever, provided the white flag, followed by a Daniel O’Connell fisted goal after the Cork senior was put through by John Cooper.
The green flag represented one of Cooper’s rare forays deep into the opposition half, and from a Cork perspective they needed the dynamic Éire Óg man surging forward far more than he had the opportunity to.
In what was the tale of the evening, he and his teammates spent the majority of the hour on the backfoot.
A crucial swing point in this second-round game was the opportunity for a second Cork goal approaching the break, Rory Maguire’s thumping shot superbly deflected out for a ’45 by a last-ditch MTU Kerry intervention.
In the ensuing passage of play, corner-back Michael Potts surged up the field before offloading to Darragh Lyne who delivered Kerry’s third major of the evening.
A half-time scoreline of 3-7 to 1-4 meant there was a fair degree of inevitability hanging over the outcome with still half an hour to play. And this sense of game over was copperfastened by Cork’s inability to add to their account for the opening 14 minutes of the second-half.
Two Tony Brosnan points and a fourth goal from sub Cathal Feriter was all Kerry mustered in the second period. Then again, they didn’t need any more than these three scores.
Cork sub Dylan O’Connor impressed upon his introduction with two points, raising his hand high for selection when MTU Cork return inside the whitewash next week. There, they’ll get a second and last attempt to secure a quarter-final berth.