Cork bring Kilkenny’s reign as kings of the summer to an end
Henry Shefflin sent off as the reprieved Patrick Horgan makes hay
Cork’s William Egan tackles Colin Fennelly of Kilkenny at Semple Stadium on Sunday. Photograph: Inpho
CORK 0-19 KILKENNY 0-14: In the most fantastic, unpredictable hurling championship perhaps ever, Kilkenny are no more. With shades of 1999, yet even more comprehensive, Jimmy Barry Murphy’s brand new Cork team did what Tipperary and Waterford could not.
They did to Kilkenny what Kilkenny did to them in 2006; put what seems like the final nail in the greatest team’s coffin.
And King Henry walked before anyone else. He will be 35 next January.
The reward is an All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin on August 11th. An age old rivalry, in both football and hurling, is about to be revived.
But yesterday’s colours were red against black and amber. That in itself seemed to make reputations immediately irrelevant. This was Cork against Kilkenny. A young, ravenous Cork hurling team who paid no heed to names like Tyrrell or Shefflin when it came to the early collisions.
Everything that had gone before this summer was shelved.
Cork shot into a 0-11 to 0-6 lead at half-time just as Henry Shefflin tore off his helmet and jogged to the sideline. Referee Barry Kelly sent him off for a second yellow card moments before the near flawless Patrick Horgan – freed from a match ban by Cork’s precise rule argument – whipped over his eighth point. Horgan was excellent, finishing with 0-11.
Shefflin was yellow carded on 10 minutes for a wild pull. That allowed Horgan make it 0-4 to 0-3 from miles out the field.
The game’s greatest player in modern times was gone on 35 minutes for catching the head of Jamie Coughlan, having tracked to his own half back line in frustration. It looked worse than it was but Kelly’s decision was clearly instinctive.
Cork owned the loose sliotar before and after. Tom Kenny, their only surviving All-Ireland winner, was all over Shefflin. The corner backs, Shane O’Neill and Conor O’Sullivan, devoured Richie Hogan and Walter Walsh.
O’Sullivan became an extremely effective spare man in the second half.
The other returning, would-be Kilkenny saviour, Michael Fennelly, was clever and astute in his endeavours but Cork and particularly Lorcán McLoughlin enveloped the big man whenever possible.
Cork’s brilliant newcomer, Séamus Harnedy, also got a perfect block on Fennelly that brought Conor Lehane to life after some poor shooting.
Down the other end not a single Kilkenny forward made an impact. Eoin Larkin finished with 0-6, two from play, but was just plain poor. After three wides Richie Power took responsibility for a 65. He missed. Shefflin grabbed the sliotar for the next free. He missed as well.
The majority of the crowd were decked out in Rebel red. They were ebullient as half-time rolled around, almost glad Horgan was sent off against Limerick so they could do this to Kilkenny.
The throw-in for the second half was like the beach sequence in Saving Private Ryan. Fennelly and McLoughlin got embroiled in a nasty brawl. The play rushed away from them with O’Neill bringing an illegal halt to Larkin before he could pull the trigger.