TRAILING by 11 points (2-7 to 0-2) entering the final quarter the situation was looking very bleak indeed for the Kilkenny intermediates in their Division Two league opener.
However, to their credit, they staged a remarkable fight back, outscoring Cork 2-3 to 0-1 over the closing quarter. Substitute Miriam Walsh, who played in the minor victory over Galway on Saturday, and Siobhan Holland led the revival, but it wasn’t enough to rein in the long-time leaders.
Playing into a strong first half breeze, a defensive-minded Kilkenny trailed by 1-3 to 0-2 at the break. Sinead Gallen scored the goal, pouncing to turn the sliotar into an empty net after Sarah Harrington’s initial ground shot went straight at Kilkenny goalkeeper Anne-Marie Lennon.
Cork started the second half strongly. Three points in succession from top scorer Sinead O’Callaghan - she hit 1-7 overall - stretched the advantage to seven points. A second Gallen goal followed soon after, before a Sarah O’Donovan point left the Cats with a mountain to climb (2-7 to 0-2).
However, Kilkenny began their incredible comeback.
A goal from Siobhan Holland’s angled free narrowed the gap on 44 minutes, before Holland (free) and half-time sub Miriam Walsh tacked on more points to shave more scores off the deficit (2-7 to 1-4).
Sinead O’Callaghan kept the momentum going when she pointed a free with eight minutes to go, before Miriam Walsh’s long run and delivery set up Rebecca Cleere for a well-taken goal;.
Kilkenny kept the faith, with Holland pointing another free in the 55th minute, but that would conclude the scoring. Despite their best efforts, the Cats’ gallant efforts came up short.
Kilkenny had magnificent performers, especially in defence.
Claire Aylward was impressive at corner-back, with Eimear Mulhall and Stacey Quirke equally superb, while Sorcha Fennelly performed solidly at centre-back.
The introduction of Miriam Walsh gave Kilkenny a greater impetus in attack. Switching Siobhan Holland also made a considerable difference. Rebecca Cleere worked trojanly and her goal was just rewards for her efforts, while Lisa Carey and Jane Cullen grafted tenaciously.
SCORERS: Cork - Sinead O’Callaghan (0-7, 0-6 frees); Sinead Gallen (2-0); Sarah O’Donovan (0-1). Kilkenny - Siobhan Holland (1-2 frees); Rebecca Cleere (1-0); Lisa Hanrick (0-2 frees); Miriam Walsh (0-1).
Kilkenny - Anne-Marie Lennon (Blacks & Whites), Claire Aylward (Glenmore), Eimear Mulhall (Lisdowney), Katie Doheny (St Lachtain’s), Stacey Quirke (St Martin’s), Sorcha Fennelly (Dicksboro), Sally Teehan (Thomastown), Siobhan Holland (Lisdowney), Sarah Walsh (Thomastown), Siobhan Corcoran (St Anne’s), Lisa Carey (Thomastown), Jane Cullen (Rower-Inistioge), Siobhan Fahey (Emeralds), Rebecca Cleere (O’Loughlin Gaels), Lisa Hanrick (Dicksboro). Subs: Miriam Walsh (Tullaroan), Amy Bryan (O’Loughlin Gaels), Aine Kinsella (Mullinavat), Aoife Lyng (Rower-Inistioge).
Cork - Grace O’Callaghan, Christine Murphy, Susan Kate Brosnan, Roisin De Faoite, Tessa Crowley, Amanda Dorgan, Yvonne Murphy, Sarah Harrington, Tricia Buttimer, Sinead Gallen, Collette Desmond, Nicole O’Brien, Michelle Tobin, Sarah O’Donovan, Sinead O’Callaghan.