Kilkenny 0-20, Cork 2-12
IT TOOK all of their reserve, but Kilkenny fought off a strong challenge from Cork to secure their place in the semi-finals of the National Hurling League, writes Trevor Spillane.
Kilkenny held their nerve to secure their third win on the spin in the NHL, a finish to the group stages which pleased team boss Brian Cody.
“That was a game which could have gone either way,” he said. “It tested us to the limits, but we’re delighted that we won it.”
The Cats had it all to do after they trailed Cork by four points (0-7 to 0-3) after the 25-minute mark, but they closed out the first half in impressive form to go in all square at the interval. Eoin Larkin did most of their first half scoring, bagging four points in the opening 35 minutes. Tommy Walsh, Lester Ryan and Colin Fennelly were also on the scoresheet, while Richie Hogan had a penalty saved by Cork’s Anthony Nash (half-time: Kilkenny 0-7, Cork 0-7).
Parity proved hard to shrug off in the second half. The sides shared the first six points in equal measure before Luke Farrell goaled to give Cork a 1-10 to 0-11 lead by the 46th minute.
Kilkenny dug deep after that and began to fight for their points, doing enough to go in front by the 61st minute thanks to Richie Power, Richie Hogan and Colin Fennelly (2).
The gap was two when Power put a penalty over the bar, moving to four points after Power, Hogan and Fennelly all grabbed minor scores near the end of normal time (0-9 to 1-12)
An injury-time goal from Conor Lehane meant Cork weren’t out of the game, but Michael Fennelly’s last gasp point made sure Kilkenny advanced to the final four and that meeting with Galway on April 21.
See Wednesday’s Kilkenny People for full match report and reaction.
Kilkenny - E. Murphy, C. Fogarty, J.J. Delaney, J. Tyrrell, T. Walsh, B. Hogan, K. Joyce, L. Ryan, M. Fennelly, W. Walsh, E. Larkin, R. Hogan, G. Aylward, C. Fennelly, A. Fogarty. Sub: R. Power for Aylward, 27 mins.
Cork - A. Nash, K. Murphy, B. Murphy, C. O’Sullivan, L. McLoughlin, C. Joyce, S. White, D. Kearney, P. Cronin, C. Lehane, C. McCarthy, P. O’Sullivan, S. Moylan, L. Farrell, P. Horgan. Subs: M. Cussen for McCarthy, 52 mins; C. Spillane for Kearney, 66 mins.
Referee - B. Gavin (Offaly).