Cork v Kilkenny: Hurlers will host rivals on Saturday night in Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Allianz National Hurling League semi-final throws in at 7.15pm
Cork v Kilkenny: Hurlers will host rivals on Saturday night in Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Ollie Walsh and Walter Walsh, 14, of Kilkenny in action against Mark Ellis of Cork during the 2018 Allianz Hurling League Division clash at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

CORK and Kilkenny is set to attract a bumper crowd for Saturday's Allianz National Hurling League semi-final at 7.15pm in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Waterford take on Wexford in the other clash on Sunday at 3.45pm in Nowlan Park with the final the following weekend, two weeks out from the opening round of the provincial championships.

Kieran Kingston’s charges won four of their five league games in the group stages and were already through before last Sunday’s defeat away to Wexford when a host of key players were rested.

Saturday’s semi-final offers Cork the chance to reach the Division 1 final for the first time in seven years, while they’re seeking a first title since 1998.

The reason Cork were due a home game with their great rivals is because of an agreement when they last met outside the regular league fixtures.

Cork beat Kilkenny in a relegation play-off on Noreside in 2019, though with the league restructured into 1A and 1B tiers for the following season, the stakes weren’t as high as they could have been.

John Meyler was at the helm while a number of players who featured in the 2-15 to 1-16 win have since moved on: Anthony Nash, Darren Browne, Bill Cooper, Cormac Murphy, Jamie Coughlan and Aidan Walsh. Subs Jack O’Connor and Coughlan nabbed the crucial goals on that occasion, though as it turned out winning the match put the Rebels into the stronger league section of Division 1.

Cork and the Cats collided in a league final in 2012, Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s first season after he returned as manager, but were well beaten in Thurles.

The last league semi-final appearance was in ‘15 when JBM’s charges stormed back from 12 points down to squeeze through against Dublin, 1-27 to 2-23.

Dublin's David Treacy and Damien Cahalane of Cork in action in 2015. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Dublin's David Treacy and Damien Cahalane of Cork in action in 2015. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Paudie O’Sullivan raised the green flag and Seamus Harnedy clipped the winning point, on a day Patrick Horgan struck 0-17 and Conor Lehane had 0-4 from play. Carrigaline’s Rob O’Shea and twins William and Daniel Kearney were in the line-up at Nowlan Park, with Castlelyons’ Anthony Spillane, Colm’s brother, introduced in the closing stages.

Unfortunately, Cork lost the subsequent league final to Waterford and the Leesiders were also defeated in the 2010 league decider against Galway and in 2002 to Kilkenny.

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