Kerry 1-23 Cork 0-15
Ten different players found the target as Kerry continued their dominance in Munster with a 1-23 to 0-15 win sealing their 79th provincial title.
The Kingdom were never in trouble as they secured their fifth Munster title in a row with the minimum of fuss against their arch rivals in a disappointing decider at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney.
Cork, as feared after unconvincing wins over Waterford and Tipperary, just were not able to offer a serious challenge to their neighbours and their search for a first win in Kerry since 1995 continues.
Kerry started both halves strongly and scoring bursts in each of those periods left the Rebels chasing the game.
And Cork just were not able to muster a serious challenge and will now enter the qualifiers with their confidence low.
Kerry, on the other hand, again displayed why they are probably the biggest threat to Dublin’s hopes of completing a three in a row of All-Ireland titles this season.
Cork were left with a mountain to climb when they trailed by 0-11 to 0-7 at the interval, having played with the breeze.
The Rebels, lucky to get past Waterford and Tipperary in the earlier rounds, could really have done with a solid start to have any chance of securing their 38th Munster SFC title.
But they found themselves trailing by 0-4 to 0-0 after just four minutes after Paul Geaney pointed twice in addition to setting up his cousin Mikey Geaney, while James O’Donoghue got the first of four first-half points.
Cork did have chances to cut the gap but their shooting was wayward. They kicked seven wides in the opening half, while at the other end Kerry were flawless and didn’t hit a wide against the wind.
Mark Collins eventually got Cork off the mark after eight minutes with a good score but the Kerry response was swift with O’Donoghue and Anthony Maher extending the lead to 0-6 to 0-01 after 11 minutes.
Cork midfielder Ian Maguire was impressive in getting them back into contention and it took a good save from Kerry custodian Brian Kelly to block a goal chance.
Collins landed his second point but again the Kingdom response was good with O’Donoghue and Paul Geaney scoring frees.
Niall Coakley, a championship debutant after being drafted in instead of Colm O’Neill, pointed a free from the right as Cork finally got moving. Maguire pointed and Coakley got a second reduce the margin the gap to 0-08 to 0-05 ten minutes from the break.
O’Donoghue and Luke Connolly exchanged points and then Kieran Donaghy, from a goal chance, and Tomas Clancy did likewise, but the Kingdom had the final say of the opening half when Paul Geaney got his fourth of the game.
Kerry kicked five points without reply after the restart to kill off any notion of a Cork revival with interval substitute Stephen O’Brien kicking two of them before James O’Donoghue kicked Kerry’s first wide of the game after 42 minutes.
Donnchadh O’Connor injected some potency in the Cork attack when the 36-year old was introduced and kicked six points in the second-half, four of them from play.
Paul Kerrigan had a goal chance saved by Brian Kelly but Paul Geaney wrapped it up at the other end when he bundled the ball over the line for the only goal of the match after 64 minutes.
Play had been delayed several minutes after Kerry’s Fionn Fitzgerald picked up a head injury but that was the only negative on a day when they eased their way to another Munster crown.
Kerry: B Kelly; F Fitzgerald, M Griffin, S Enright (0-1); P Crowley, T Morley, P Murphy (0-1); D Moran (0-1), A Maher (0-1); M Geaney (0-2, 1 ’45), K McCarthy, D Walsh; P Geaney (1-5, 0-1f), K Donaghy (0-1), J O’Donoghue (0-7, 0-4f).
Subs: S O’Brien (0-3) for Walsh (36 mins), K Young for Fitzgerald (46 mins), J Barry for Maher (59 mins), BJ Keane (0-1) for O’Donoghue (63 mins), D O’Sullivan for Donaghy (65 mins), J Lyne for M Geaney (66 mins).
Cork: K O’Halloran; J Loughrey, J O’Sullivan, S Powter; T Clancy (0-1), M Shields, K Crowley; A Walsh, I Maguire (0-1); R Deane, M Collins (0-2, 1f), K O’Driscoll; N Coakley (0-2, 2f), L Connolly (0-2, 1f), P Kerrigan (0-1).
Subs: D O’Connor (0-6, 4f) for Coakley (36 mins), A O’Connor for Deane (39), C O’Driscoll for Shields (44), M Hurley for K O’Driscoll (45), E Cadogan for O’Sullivan (63, BC), S Cronin for Loughrey (63).
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).