Cork dump out champions Kilkenny to end an era

Henry Shefflin sent off as Rebels set up semi-final date with Dublin

Cork 0-19 Kilkenny 0-14: In the most fantastic, unpredictable hurling championship perhaps ever, Kilkenny are no more. Of course it was Cork, a new Cork team, who did what Tipperary and Waterford could not.

They did to Kilkenny what Kilkenny did to them in 2006; they put what seems like the final nail in a great team’s coffin.

And King Henry walked before anyone else.

The reward is an All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin. An age-old rivalry, in both football and hurling, is about to be revived.


But the colours today were red against black and amber. Nothing else mattered. Hunger would win this contest.

The names of the players were immediately irrelevant. This was Cork against Kilkenny. A young, ravenous Cork hurling team managed by Jimmy Barry Murphy.

Everything that had gone before this summer was forgotten.

Cork shot into a 0-11 to 0-6 lead at half-time as Henry Shefflin took off his helmet and jogged to the sideline. Referee Barry Kelly had no option but to send him off for a second yellow card moments before the flawless Patrick Horgan – freed from a match ban by Cork's precise expert rule argument – whipped over his eighth point.

Horgan was excellent.

Shefflin deserved to go. He 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 scragging the head of Jamie Coughlan. Shefflin was back working in his own half as somebody had to turn the tide.

Cork owned the loose sliotar. The other returning, would-be Kilkenny saviour Michael Fennelly, was clever and astute in his endeavours but Cork were all over the big man. Brilliant newcomer Séamus Harnedy got one perfect block on Fennelly that brought Conor Lehane to life.

Daniel Kearney was already buzzing around the middle third, scooping up countless ball. They were all at it.

Down the other end not a single Kilkenny forward made an impact in the opening 35 minutes. Shane O'Neill, obviously recovered from a hip injury, had Richie Hogan in his pocket. Conor O'Sullivan was hooking and hounding the life out of Walter Walsh.

Eoin Larkin was just plain poor. After three wides, two from placed balls, Richie Power took responsibility for a 65. And 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. This was almost perfect. Six wides were acceptable, Lehane guilty of two, because so many other things were working.

Brian Cody reacted by withdrawing the utterly anonymous Cillian Buckley with Lester Ryan coming into the midfield.

The throw in for the second half was like the raiding of the beach sequence in Saving Private Ryan. Fennelly and Lorcán McLoughlin got embroiled in a nasty fight. The play rushed away from them with O’Neill dragging Larkin down before he could shoot for goal.

Penalty. Power had to re-take it, despite pounding it to the net, as players from both sides had prematurely flooded over the lines. Anthony Nash got a touch to the second attempt, and it ricocheted about the square before landing on Power's hurley again. His third shot was deflected over the bar.

O'Sullivan was the spare man, sitting in between the other Cork full backs who were minding Colin Fennelly and Walsh. He seemed to have plenty of time to clear his lines.

Kilkenny were struggling so badly for scores that Tommy Walsh had to come up the right wing and take a point.

It seemed like the Cork forwards had stopped hurling. But Horgan had done nothing of the sort, sending over another super point before winning a free off JJ Delaney on the next ball. That lift and strike from the right sideline made it 0-14 to 0-9.

Cork looked untouchable. Kilkenny seemed awfully mortal.

Horgan finally registered a wide on 52 minutes after Tom Kenny, unburdened of Shefflin duties, had hounded Richie Hogan into a foul.

It got worse for Kilkenny as Power was carted off injured.

It really looked to be over as a contest when Cork sub Stephen Moylan’s point was followed up by another from Luke O’Farrell.

An eight point mountain to climb without Power or Shefflin.

The last 10 minutes was window dressing. Kilkenny are gone.

Dublin and Cork have two very interesting meetings in Croke Park coming up.