Cork hurlers left with some big questions to answer after Kilkenny loss

Rebels didn't threaten to hit the net and were outmuscled at times in Nowlan Park, the good news is they've time to get it right before meeting Waterford in late April
Cork hurlers left with some big questions to answer after Kilkenny loss

MY BALL Ciarán Joyce and Rob Downey of Cork rise high with Cian Kenny of Kilkenny at UMPC Nowlan Park. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

GIVEN Limerick’s second-half excellence in their league semi against Tipp and Cork’s awful final record of five defeats since the last win, you could argue it wasn’t the worst the Rebels were defeated at Nowlan Park.

They’ve had an impressive start under Pat Ryan, a Munster Senior Hurling League title followed by an unbeaten run in the regular phase of the league proper, but they rode their luck at times too. Here the goals that sustained them up to now didn’t materialise.

You can be sure the Cork selectors learned quite a bit in losing to Kilkenny.

They’ve a full month now until they host Waterford on April 30 to integrate the newcomers with the veterans and hopefully get key hurlers like Darragh Fitzgibbon, Seán O’Donoghue, Seamie Harnedy and Robbie O’Flynn back fit and firing. Patrick Horgan, Tim O’Mahony and Ger Mellerick appeared off the bench on Noreside to offer a reminder of their quality.

What is a huge pity is that Eoin Downey’s straight red card will rule him out of the first round in the Páirc. He was a banker to make his championship debut against the Déise.

It was game-over really when the Rebels went down to 14, even if they scrapped away and kept the scoreboard ticking in the last quarter.


What everyone wanted before was a contest with a championship-esque bite to really test the mettle of potential summer starters like Tommy O’Connell, Eoin Downey, Pádraig Power and Brian Roche.

Kilkenny’s intensity provided that from the throw-in, even if they came went flat after the sending-off.

They pressed Cork runners coming through the middle, forcing frees for overcarrying and turning a midfield blockdown into the first-half goal for Martin Keoghan. They’ve a new manager in Derek Lyng but the same tenacity.

The Rebels didn’t take it lying down though, despite a sluggish start. Shane Barrett curled over a soaring score after a Rob Downey diving tackle, and ended his afternoon with 0-4 from play. O’Connell rose high to pluck the sliotar from between two Cats.

Power was a constant menace in the opening 35 minutes before his supply dried up, grabbing two first-half points and getting fouled for two frees.

Roche, even with bodies flying everywhere in the rammed middle third, processed a lot of possession. Conor Cahalane showed again why his size, speed and attitude could see him hold off more marquee forwards for a championship berth.

What was worrying was Conor Lehane’s struggles to make an impact on the scoreboard while physically Cork missed Declan Dalton and Harnedy as outlets up front.

Barrett and O’Connell were two of Cork’s most consistent performers this spring and were heavily involved despite the disappointing result. They’re certainties to be in the starting 15 at the end of April; Cork need some brutal A v B jousts at training to turn a big panel into a driven core for the summer.

Tim O’Mahony leaves the field after the loss. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Tim O’Mahony leaves the field after the loss. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile


Shane Kingston 1-30 (0-24 f), 

Declan Dalton 1-12 (0-5 f), 

Shane Barrett 1-11, 

Conor Lehane 2-8 (0-3 f), 

Patrick Horgan 0-13 (0-8 f, 0-1 65), 

Padraig Power 2-6, 

Conor Cahalane 0-7, 

Brian Hayes 0-6, 

Seamus Harnedy 1-3, 

Seán Twomey 2-0, 

Robbie O'Flynn, Cormac Beausang 1-1 each, 

Jack O'Connor 0-3, 

Brian Roche 0-2, 

Tim O'Mahony, Rob Downey, Alan Cadogan, Eoin Downey, Ciarán Joyce, Luke Meade, Tommy O'Connell, Cormac O'Brien, Ethan Twomey, Cathal Cormack, Ben Cunningham 0-1 each.


Conor Lehane 0-16 (0-7 f, 0-1 65), 

Declan Dalton 1-7 (1-0 pen, 0-2 f), 

Patrick Horgan 1-6 (0-6 f), 

Shane Barrett 1-4 (0-1 f), 

Shane Kingston 0-6 (0-5 f), 

Cormac Beausang 0-5, 

Brian Hayes 1-2, 

Jack O'Connor 1-1, 

Alan Cadogan 0-4, 

Brian O'Sullivan, Brian Roche, Patrick Collins (f) 0-2 each, 

Tommy O’Connell, Brian Roche, Conor Walsh, Conor Cahalane, Luke Meade 0-1 each.

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