HEARTBREAK for Cork in Callan late Saturday afternoon as a four-point defeat to Kilkenny saw them exit this year’s All-Ireland Intermediate Championship on scoring difference.
It what was the toughest group of the three, Cork, Kilkenny and Antrim all finished on six points but with Antrim inflicting a 3-17 to 1-7 defeat on Kildare earlier in the day Cork needed at least a draw in Kilkenny to advance.
It wasn’t to be, but it was a game Cork could have won.
Two points behind at halftime having had a blustering wind at their backs Cork had it all to do but when they went in front at the end of the third quarter, it looked as if the day could go their way.
Kilkenny hit over the next three points however as Cork failed to take advantage of scorable opportunities.
Still, just two points separated the sides on fifty-nine minutes, but an awful refereeing error sealed the deal for the home side.
With Cork on the attack 30 yards from goal a blatant pull on the jersey with the ref standing inches away was ignored.
As Kilkenny cleared and were awarded a soft free Hannah Scott buried the ball in Cork’s net and it was game over. A four-point swing.
But these things happen in sport and Kilkenny’s second goal aside, Cork had enough possession to win the game.
Unfortunately, Kilkenny’s defence were too physically strong for Cork’s forward division and Cork failed to make any real impact in general play in that section over the hour.
Finola Neville added strength when introduced but Kilkenny smelt a victory and when they went three up on 51 minutes, they battened down the hatches.
Despite coming back out to face a really strong wind, the game was still there for Cork at halftime with the sides evenly matched.
Cork were getting stronger after a jittery start, but they needed to find a way through Kilkenny’s tall and strong full-back line in particular, in a defence where space was at a minimum with Kilkenny dropping an additional two back to protect against that strong wind.
Both defences were busy with Corks Niamh O’Leary, Grainne Hannon, Aoife O’Callaghan, and Aisling Moloney excellent in the opening period.
At midfield Lauren Callanan was outstanding but Cork were at times also found wanting around the middle on loose players.
Rachel O’Shea picked off two nice points from play, one in particular from distance, and Cork needed more of that with the elements at their back, as Kilkenny were winning the physical exchanges.
Four wides to Kilkenny’s one meant this game was very much 50/50 at the 30-minute whistle. Cork’s wides tally increased in the second half when they needed to take every opportunity that presented itself.
Kilkenny however won the final quarter while also hitting a number of wides as in the end the Cats deserved their victory and march on to at least a quarter-final spot.
R O’Shea 0-3 f, R Harty 0-3, F Neville 0-2, L Callanan 0-1
S Ahern: N O’Leary, D Carroll, G Hannon; A O’Callaghan, A Moloney, K Kilcommins; L Callanan, M Murphy; K Walsh, H Ryan, R Harty; A Hurley, K Wall, R O’Shea.
F Neville for K Wall (37), C Daly for G Hannon (43), C Kingston for K Kilcommins (50), C Finn for K Walsh (54).