Cork 1-37 Kilkenny 1-32 (aet)
Cork are in the All-Ireland senior hurling final for the first time in eight years after prevailing in a dramatic semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon.
Extra time was needed after Cork had ceded a lead of six points as the end of normal time approached, but Kieran Kingston’s young side showed character to earn the victory and a place in the decider against Limerick in a fortnight.
A goal from Jack O’Connor was the key score in extra time, coming after the teams had each scored two points. Shortly beforehand, Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy had denied Alan Connolly but he had no chance when O’Connor – who had been moved from the inside line to a deeper role – made a knifing run from deep after Alan Cadogan’s lay-off and fired home from a tight angle.
Cork were 1-32 to 1-29 ahead at half-time in extra time and points from O’Connor, sub Shane Kingston – who scored seven – and Séamus Harnedy put them six ahead. While Kilkenny looked to replicate the fightback that had brought them level in normal time, it proved to be beyond them.
The opening stages of normal time looked ominous for Cork as Kilkenny hit something of a purple patch, with Richie Reid, Eoin Cody and Pádraig Walsh pointing in quick succession to make it 0-4 to 0-1. Though Robbie O’Flynn’s fine point interrupted the flow, Alan Murphy replied for Kilkenny and TJ Reid, played in by Billy Ryan, had a good chance of a goal but was crowded out by Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon, resulting in his over-carrying.
Coleman needed to be alert again moments later, cutting out an Alan Murphy pass intended to give Eoin Cody sight of goal. Though Cody did get his second just after that to make it 0-6 to 0-2, Cork were beginning to find their feet.
Two from Patrick Horgan – one from play and the other a free after Shane Barrett had drawn a foul – halved the deficit and he added another on 15, following a heavy-duty challenge on Tim O’Mahony by Paddy Deegan, who was yellow-carded.
Cork were level when Conor Cahalane fed Niall O’Leary and Horgan’s first from play and fifth overall ensured that the Rebels led at the water-break.
Billy Ryan, contained by Robert Downey up to then, had Kilkenny level on 19 before putting them ahead two minutes later and while TJ Reid made it 0-9 to 0-7, some uncharacteristically poor shooting stopped Brian Cody’s side forging more of an advantage.
Instead, Cork came strongly again with points from Darragh Fitzgibbon, Barrett and Horgan, a lovely over-the-shoulder effort.
Kilkenny wing-back James Maher tied at 0-10 each and by the half-hour mark the sides had shared four more points, level for the seventh time since the opening score. Again, Cork had to ride their luck as Richie Reid and his brother TJ set up Eoin Cody for a chance but his shot allowed Patrick Collins to save comfortably, though the Leinster champions did push on to lead by 0-15 to 0-14 at half-time, while Cork lost Ger Millerick – who had done well on TJ Reid – to injury just before the break.
While Millerick’s replacement, Eoin Cadogan, made it a seamless transition, Cork found themselves four behind, 0-19 to 0-15, by the seventh minute of the second half before yet another rousing revival. After Robbie O’Flynn cut the gap with a fine score, Horgan landed a free from the right – softly awarded, it must be said – and then Mark Coleman’s fine pass allowed sub Shane Kington to leave the minimum between the teams.
The good work was almost undone as goalkeeper Patrick Collins was caught in possession, allowing Adrian Mullen a goal attempt, but O’Leary blocked and Horgan levelled at 0-19 each after another sub, Alan Cadogan, was fouled.
Cork were in front through Kingston, who reacted when Jack O’Connor’s goal effort came back off the post, but the frantic nature continued as TJ Reid and Eoin Cody replied for Kilkenny and Kington’s third made it 0-21 each at the water-break.
After O’Connor and Conor Fogarty exchanged points, what followed was a ten-minute spell from the 55th minute to the 65th, in which Cork outscored their opponents by six points to none to move 0-28 to 0-22 ahead, having not led by more than one point up to that stage.
Kingston scored two in that burst while Alan Cadogan could have had a goal and the defence won everything that came their way, led by the calm assurance of Mark Coleman, who made an important challenge as Walter Walsh shaped for a goal attempt.
Kilkenny ate into the deficit though, and Cody left two in it, 0-28 to 0-26, as the game moved into injury time. While O’Connor put Cork three in front again, further chances were wasted. In the fourth minute of added time, a turnover in centrefield led to Pádraig Walsh picking out the unmarked Mullen, who flashed home his shot to send the game to extra time.
Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-15 (0-9f), S Kingston 0-7, J O’Connor 1-3, A Cadogan, S Harnedy 0-3 each, R O’Flynn 0-2, N O’Leary, M Coleman, D Fitzgibbon, S Barrett, D Dalton 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-13 (0-9f, 0-3 65), A Mullen 1-3, B Ryan 0-5, E Cody 0-4, J Maher, P Walsh, M Carey, C Fogarty, R Reid, A Murphy, R Hogan 0-1 each.
CORK: P Collins (Ballinhassig); S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), R Downey (Glen Rovers), N O’Leary (Castlelyons); G Millerick (Fr O’Neills), M Coleman (Blarney), T O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum); D Fitzgibbon (Charleville), L Meade (Newcestown); C Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), S Harnedy (St Ita’s), R O’Flynn (Erin’s Own); S Barrett (Blarney), P Horgan (Glen Rovers), J O’Connor (Sarsfields).
Subs: E Cadogan (Douglas) for Millerick (35, injured), S Kingston (Douglas) for Fitzgibbon (42), A Cadogan (Douglas) for Barrett (47), D Cahalane (St Finbarr’s) for O’Flynn (68), A Connolly (Blackrock) for C Cahalane (70, injured), S O’Leary Hayes (Midleton) for Coleman (80, injured), Fitzgibbon for Meade (84), D Dalton (Fr O’Neills) for O’Connor (86).
KILKENNY: E Murphy; P Deegan, H Lawlor, T Walsh; J Maher, P Walsh, M Carey; C Fogarty, R Reid; A Mullen, J Donnelly, TJ Reid; A Murphy, B Ryan, E Cody.
Subs: M Keoghan for Donnelly (half-time), C Buckley for R Reid (51), W Walsh for A Murphy (52), J Bergin for Keoghan (60), R Hogan for Cody (half-time in extra time), Donnelly for Ryan (88).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).