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GAA | Kerry overcome battling Cork to retain title

Kerry have beaten Cork to claim their 81st Munster SFC title.

The Kingdom survived a second half rally from the Rebels to beat their rivals by 1-19 to 3-10 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Kerry led by six points at the break (1-10 to 1-04) with defender Tom O'Sullivan finding the net for the champions in just the seventh minute.

Luke Connolly scored Cork's first goal in the 19th minute, and added his second from the penalty spot early in the second half.

Brian Hurley's 47th minute goal drew the Rebels level, but Peter Keane's Kerry did enough to retain their crown, despite the dismissal of Paul Geaney.

Kerry - unbeaten in Munster for seven years now - made a bright start before the paltry 18,265 crowd.

Sean O'Shea opened the scoring with an early free, before David Clifford split the posts in the fourth minute.

Three minutes later, O'Sullivan found the net with a composed finish to score his first Championship goal after a brilliant run from O'Shea.

Corner-back Tom O'Sullivan applies the finishing touch after a superb run from Seanie O'Shea. @kerry_official have started with purpose. Watch highlights @rte2 from 9.30pm on Sunday #RTEGAA #corkvkerry pic.twitter.com/uUxMHnYo5F — The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 22, 2019

Mark Collins scored Cork's first point in the ninth minute, but a Clifford free made it 1-5 to 0-01 after just 13 minutes.

Ruairi Deane forced a great save from Shane Ryan in the 16th minute in what was a warning sign to the Kerry defence, which was far too open at times.

Connolly finished past Ryan three minutes later to make it 1-05 to 1-01 after being picked out by Deane.

Kerry responded well, with O'Sullivan, Geaney, Clifford, and O'Shea (two) rattling off scores to give the Kingdom a six point lead when the half-time whistle sounded.

Cork made the perfect start to the second half when they awarded a penalty in the 37th minute following a Tadhg Morley foul on Killian O'Hanlon.

Connolly kept his cool to find the back of the net for his, and Cork's, second goal of the game.

A moment of madness from Shane Ryan handed Cork their third goal 10 minutes later.

The Kerry 'keeper came rushing off his line to fist a high ball clear, but Hurley got his fist to the ball first and finished into an empty net.

Stephen O'Brien grabbed the next two scores for Kerry, but Geaney was then given his marching orders for picking up a yellow card and a black.

Two Mark Collins frees drew Ronan McCarthy's men level, but points from Michael Burns and O'Shea edged Kerry ahead once more.

The final whistle heralded Kerry’s 81st Munster title, and booked their place in the Super 8s.

Cork’s ability to carve through the Kerry defence and plunder three goals will worry Peter Keane moving forward, but is this the test Kerry need ahead of the latter stages?

The Rebels will take heart from their impressive performance, and will look to maintain that level for the qualifiers.

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