Cork’s strong finish keeps battling Kilkenny at bay
Early Shane Kingston goal proves the difference between the teams in the end
Kilkenny’s Pádraig Walsh and Joey Holden tackle Cork’s Séamus Harnedy at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Cork 1-24 Kilkenny 0-24
A strong finish from Cork secured victory over Kilkenny in the opening round of the Allianz HL Division 1 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night.
Trailing by a point at half-time in a game which was level 13 times, Cork looked to have pulled clear when leading by 1-19 to 0-19 late on before Pádraig Walsh, sub TJ Reid and Walter Walsh all pointed for Kilkenny to tie matters once more.
A neck injury to captain Cillian Buckley necessitated a hold-up which resulted in eight minutes of injury time – thankfully, Brian Cody confirmed afterwards that was not serious – and in that period Cork settled again, outscoring Kilkenny by five points to two, sub Jack O’Connor, Kingston and Lehane on target before Harnedy made the game safe with his third point.
Cork coach John Meyler was happy to get the win, citing an improved second-half display.
“We weren’t that sharp in the first half, I thought we were sloppy,” he said.
“We had eight turnovers compared to Kilkenny’s two at half-time, but once we cut out the unforced errors and played the ball to the lads in the forwards in the second half, we were much more competitive.
“That will come, Kilkenny were sharper than us tonight, I’d expect that as they’ve played Offaly and Wexford in the last couple of weeks. It’s only a start, it’s only a win, it’s only two points, that’s all it is.
“Wexford will be a different challenge. We need to get these fellas recovered and back training Tuesday night.”
Shane Kingston’s fourth-minute goal, in the wake of Robbie O’Flynn’s opening point, gave Cork a great start, but Buckley had two points as the Cats reeled off four in a row to tie the game, and that set the tone for the remainder of the game.
Richie Reid and Alan Murphy had late points to give Kilkenny a 0-15 to 1-11 interval advantage and the visitors also had the best goal chance, Patrick Collins – a replacement for Anthony Nash, who opted against playing two games in a day after Kanturk’s All-Ireland IHC semi-final – saved well from Conor Martin.
Reid’s third point of the game extended the Kilkenny lead to two points on the resumption but Cork responded well through sub Luke Meade, Séamus Harnedy and a Conor Lehane free, one of 11 points he would contribute over the course of the 70 minutes.
Back and forth the momentum went, Cork slightly edging things as Lehane’s ninth point and a great Darragh Fitzgibbon score put them 1-19 to 0-19 in front on 56. Though Kilkenny responded, three points was also the difference at the end.
Nevertheless, Kilkenny manager Cody could take a few positives.
“We were well in the hunt,” he said, “Cork got an early goal and that’s what divided us at the finish.
“It was very competitive right through the game, it was score-for-score a lot of the time, I was very happy with a lot of the things that happened out there.
“Obviously, everybody from Kilkenny is disappointed with the result because two points matter, but we had a very inexperienced team in lots of ways out there and they did acquit themselves fairly well.”
CORK: P Collins; S O’Donoghue, E Cadogan, C Spillane (0-1); C Joyce, T O’Mahony, M Ellis (0-1); D Fitzgibbon (0-1), B Lawton; R O’Flynn (0-2), C Lehane (0-11, 9f), D Kearney (0-1); A Cadogan (0-1), S Harnedy (0-3), S Kingston (1-1). Subs: L Meade (0-1) for Lawton (27), M Cahalane for O’Flynn (57), R O’Shea for Kearney (58-61, blood), J O’Connor (0-1) for Cadogan (62).
KILKENNY: E Murphy (0-2f); J Holden, P Walsh (0-1), P Deegan; C O’Shea, J Lyng, C Buckley (0-3); C Fogarty (0-1), J Maher (0-1); M Keoghan (0-1), R Reid (0-3), P Lyng (0-1); A Murphy (0-5, 3f), W Walsh (0-2), C Martin (0-1). Subs: J Donnelly for Martin, TJ Reid (0-3) for Keoghan (both 44), L Blanchfield for Alan Murphy (49), R Leahy for Maher (57), E Morrissey for Buckley (65).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).