Weeshie's Week

Kingdom play their get out of jail card in Munster final draw

July 7th, 2015
by Weeshie Fogarty

Steeped in luck, should have been beaten, got out of jail, lucky to survive. These are just some of the remarks expressed by Kerry supporters as they left Fitzgeralds Stadium last Sunday. And then on the other hand   "why always us" could be the Cork cry following this thrilling Munster final draw. We have seen it so often in the past, Cork shooting themselves in the foot against Kerry in big championship matches. Conceding goals when there is no apparent danger what so ever and then having goals awarded against them or disallowed as controversial refereeing decisions always seem to go Kerry's way. Just take that dramatic 1976 Munster final re-play and extra time in Cork when the Kingdom was so fortunate to survive.

With six minutes left in Pairc Ui Chaoimh all those years ago Kerry were within five points of Cork when a Sean Walsh effort was saved and cleared by Cork defender Brian Murphy off the goal line. The umpires and the late John Moloney, referee, decided that Murphy had carried the ball over the line and the goal was awarded. Wrong decision in my opinion and I had the perfect view of the incidence. Cork immediately swept up field, where Declan Barron rose majestically above the Kerry defenders to punch the ball to the net only to see the goal disallowed for a square ball. Again a very harsh decision and a six point turn around in the space of minutes. Pat Spillane equalized and Kerry won in extra time. It was one of the greatest injustices to a fine Cork side and Kerry went on to become the team Mick o Dwyer build.

I also have vivid memories of a Cork defender deflecting the ball past Billy Morgan at the score board end in Fitzgeralds Stadium years ago to bring Kerry back into that game. And so it was last Sunday, ground hog day, again at the score board goal in the Stadium. Cork had started excellently, 1-1 to 0-1 ahead, twelve minutes gone, believing in themselves, the beginning just what they had craved for, and then it happened, that old familiar failing. Shooting themselves in the foot.

 Michael Shields in possession of the ball, no apparent danger what so ever but slow to react, he was stripped of possession brilliantly by Johnny Buckley, Kieran Donaghy pounced and the green flag was raised.  Brendan Kealy saved from point blank range at the other end for Kerry, Paul Kerrigan got a black card, Barry John Keane and James o Donoghue kicked some beautifully points and despite  playing poorly the All Ireland champions went to the dressing room 1-9 to 1-5 in front. But worse was to follow for Cork in a superb second half

Fifty two minutes gone and we witnessed an incident that will be discussed for many a long day, the penalty.  Kerry were struggling, trailing a Cork side who were playing their best football against the wind, 1 -11 to 2-11. Long ball into the Cork square James o Donoghue went for it with Mark Collins, both men came together, fell to the ground, the referee signaled for a penalty, debated with his umpires, and James goaled from the spot with the perfect  kick. And now I base my comments on twenty years of refereeing at the highest level and I must say I am utterly convinced that the referee was wrong in his decision.  You never award a penalty unless you are 100% sure. It was obvious Padraig Hughes was not sure. Why if he was did he talk long and hard with his umpires?  Wrong decision. Great for Kerry, denied Cork victory.

The strong direct running of the Cork men at the heart of the Kerry defence caused trouble all day. This was also obvious against Tipperary in the first round. My theory is that Kerry are being coached so rigidly on tackling but NOT fouling  that they are now actually allowing players to waltz in without putting in as they say, " a big hit".  Just take Corks best player Barry o Driscoll, in the sixty third minute he was at the end of a great move to find himself alone in the Kerry square and banged in the Rebels third goal. Then we saw the experience and comfort on the ball of this Kerry side.  Two minutes into injury time. Fionn Fitzgerald was at the end of a slow build up to kick a magnificent equalizer just as his Dr Crokes team mate had done last year against Mayo in Croke Park.

Last week I finished my column here with the following words. "But, I have a sneaking feeling that Cork will rise to the occasion, there has been so much bad press and terrible negative talk about them, that surly they will throw down the gauntlet and push the champions to the very limit. If they do it promises to be a cracker. I never tire of seeing the old rivals battle it out in Killarney; it is one of sports greatest days. Let's hope we have a cracker to set the pulses racing. I expect we will."

And we did have a cracker. Pat Flanagan's training just as he has done in the past with Kerry had Cork fresh, sharp, eager and speedy. Alan o Connors return to midfield was crucial but when Paul Kerrigan was sent off it caused problems for the visitors.  He had been assigned the job of sweeper in front of his full back line and when he was gone more openings began to appear for Kerry. While a lot of talk before the game concentrated on the wealth of talent on the Kerry subs bench and the quality they would bring to the game when introduced the opposite happened. The team finished up very disorganized looking and the substitution of Brian Sheehan was mystifying and we will never know if he would have pointed that late forty five. I firmly believe the St Mary's man would have set the white flag waving.

Last Sunday for me was all about Cork and their much maligned manager Brian Cuthbert. They have learned a lot from recent defeats and their defence has improved immensely crowding out the Kerry attack much better than last years Munster final.  Who will improve the most in the intervening weeks before the replay. We will look at this next week.  But the biggest winner of all, Killarney town.

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