Munster JFC final: Kingdom retain title with dramatic win over Cork

June 27, 2017

Captain Killian Spillane lead his team to the Munster Junior Crown.

Kerry collected their fourth successive Munster junior football crown when beating Cork by 4-24 to 3-20 after extra time at Pairc Ui Rinn.

For long spells it looked like the Rebels would prevail in an exciting see-saw tussle but the defending All-Ireland champions recovered from nine points adrift early in the second half and came good in extra time to capture their 44th provincial title in this grade.

Goals from Philip O'Connor and Tomás Ó Sé in the first half of extra time finally settled this extraordinary match-up, propelling the winners into an unassailable 4-20 to 2-18 lead with ten minutes to go.

In a sensational contest that ebbed one way and then the other, the Kingdom trailed by nine points after 33 minutes but then reeled off 2-5 without reply to surge ahead, with Ó Sé and O'Connor each netting their first goals of the night.

The holders trailed by two with a minute of normal time remaining and surged ahead again only for Killian O'Hanlon to pounce three minutes into injury time to force an additional 20 minutes.

On-song Knocknagree clubman Anthony O'Connor hit seven wonderful points as Paul McCarthy's team came from behind to lead by five at the break, 1-11 to 0-9.

With 929 in attendance, the visitors started best and were 0-6 to 0-2 to the good approaching the midway stage in the opening period before the Rebel County took temporarily complete control of proceedings.

Midfielder Ronan O'Toole finished off a patient Cork build-up to level the scores in the third minute after Conor Cox had opened the scoring at the other end. Ó Sé restored the Kingdom's lead and Tomas Mac an tSaoir made himself big to brilliantly deny Ryan Harkin a goal for the hosts.

Glenflesk's Jeff O'Donoghue supplied the visitors' next point but O'Connor replied with an excellent free from distance only for Ó Sé to fist his second and give the holders a double-scores lead after eleven minutes. Cox won and tapped over a free to increase the gap to three.

Captain Killian Spillane calmly stroked over the next Kerry point but Cork centre back Bart Daly picked out O'Toole in the 15th minute and the Eire Og clubman burst the net … Cox made it 0-7 to 1-2.

O'Connor fired over a stunning Cork point off the outside of the boot and O'Toole rocketed a shot off the Kerry crossbar, with O'Connor tying up the scores from a 19th-minute free after play was brought back as no advantage had accrued.

Wing back Darren O'Regan raided forward to give the home team the lead for the first time and O'Hanlon slotted their fifth consecutive score before the exceptional O'Connor turned the ball over the bar via the fingertips of Mac an tSaoir.

The Leesiders were on fire as they moved four points clear before a 22nd-minute O'Donoghue free from the ground got the Kingdom back on the scoreboard again after that superb period of Cork dominance - 1-8 to 0-8.

Philip O'Connor and Anthony O'Connor - with his fifth - traded points before the latter fired over yet another magnificent score to leave four between the teams again.

Deep into added time, O'Connor whacked over his third on the trot to propel his side in a strong position at the short whistle.

If Kerry came out in determined mode for the second half, they were soon left reeling by corner forward Eoghan Buckey, who finished to the net with aplomb to leave eight between them … half-time team talk seemingly out the window within 25 seconds! O'Connor's tap-over free made it double scores, 2-12 to 0-9.

Cox and Spillane pulled back a couple of points before centre back Daly made a vital block to deny Ó Sé a Kerry goal and Buckley flashed a goal effort wide at the other end. However, Ó Sé then traded passes with the outstanding Brendan O'Sullivan to dispatch clinically to the Cork net in the 39th minute. A sweetly-struck O'Donoghue '45' had the gap back to just three points with 20 minutes left.

Incredibly, after great work by James Walsh, Philip O'Connor drew the Kingdom level with a clinically-finished 42nd-minute goal as this contest really exploded to life.

Substitute Liam Carey edged the rampant Kingdom back ahead approaching the three-quarters stage as their scoring sequence came to 2-4 without reply - 2-13 to 2-12. Cox converted a free following a foul on the powerful O'Sullivan and Carey blazed a Kerry goal chance to the left and wide as the defending provincial and All-Ireland champions remained very much on top.

O'Connor's simple free represented the Rebels' first score in 17 minutes and his tenth point from a tight angle had the sides level again with ten minutes left to play. The hosts spurned a series of presentable scoring opportunities as the tension mounted but Buckley was on hand to fire them back in front on 55 minutes.

Substitute Sean T O'Sullivan supplied the insurance point for the Rebels in the 59th minute but Carey ensured a tense finish when halving the deficit in the last minute of normal time.

In the most amazing denouement, further injury-time points from Carey and Philip O'Connor seemed to have given the Kingdom victory but O'Hanlon tied the scores up again in the 63rd minute.

There was no let-up in the intensity as points were traded in the first minute of extra time before Brendan O'Sullivan kicked a lovely point to fire the Kingdom in front. Two minutes later, Philip O'Connor doubled the gap and brought his own personal haul to 1-3 and the game was over as a contest in the ninth minute of injury time when a purposeful O'Sullivan run created another goal for O'Connor, who blasted to the net with his left foot. Within seconds, Ó Sé struck another three-pointer at the second attempt to leave eight points separating these neighbouring counties at half time in extra time.

Ronan O'Callaghan and Ivan Parker (free) traded points and Ó Sé brought his superb tally to 2-4, with a brace of points either side of an Anthony O'Connor reply. Parker tacked on a free for the winners and a mistake in the Kingdom defence gifted O'Toole a last-gasp consolation goal for the gallant losers.

Kerry - T  Mac an tSaoir; E Kiely, J Maguire, P Kilkenny; J Walsh, M Foley, D O'Brien; R O Se, B O'Sullivan (0-1); P O'Connor (2-3), J O'Donoghue (0-3, 1f, 1'45), E O Conchuir; K Spillane (0-2), C Cox (0-5, 3f), T O Se (2-4). Subs: L Carey (0-4) for J O'Donoghue, I Parker (0-2f) for C Cox, PJ MacLaimh for M Foley, B Barrett for E O Conchuir (BC), E Cronin for K Spillane, DJ Murphy for J Walsh, S O'Sullivan for L Carey.

Cork - A Casey; K Histon, P Murphy, P Clancy; D O'Regan (0-1), B Daly, J Cronin; M O'Leary, R O'Toole (2-1); R Harkin, K O'Hanlon (0-3), R Downey; E Buckley (1-2), S Hickey, A O'Connor (0-11, 6f). Subs: S T O'Sullivan (0-1) for R Downey, L O'Neill for D O'Regan, R O'Callaghan (0-1) for S Hickey, M Bradley for S T O'Sullivan, D Colfer for P Murphy (BC).

Referee - S Lonergan.

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