Walter Walsh came off the bench to score three points
Kilkenny blasted their way back into the All-Ireland semi-finals, shooting a magnificent 29 scores in the defeat of Cork to book a place in the hurling championship last four against MacCarthy Cup holders, Limerick.
The next big championship engagement will be back in Croke Park on Saturday week (6pm) after Brian Cody’s squad - the subs contributed six points - produced their best performance by far this season to get back into the semis for the first time since 2016.
This game at Croke Park today was a thrilling mix of swaying fortunes. Cork scored their first goal before the third minute. They might have had a second by the fourth minute only that Kilkenny goalie, Eoin Murphy, brought off a blinding save from the brilliant Alan Cadogan, who tortured the winners defence all afternoon.
The losers had Kilkenny stretched at times, shooting ball into space in the right corner of the Cats defence for their two men on the inside line, Pat Horgan and Alan Cadogan to exploit.
The pair did well, Horgan shooting 2-6 and Cadogan a pair of points as breeze backed Cork hit half-time leading by 2-10 to 1-11.
If the opening was a firestorm, then the second half was even more so. The action opened with a goal from Richie Hogan in the 36th minute as the Noresiders turned the screws from the off.
At one stage Kilkenny took hold of the match and scored eight points in-a-row to gallop into what looked like a winning lead of 2-19 to 2-11 in the 52nd minute.
Cork hit back, points from Seamus Harnedy and Alan Cadogan (2) backed by a 55th minute goal from Pat Horgan opening up the contest again (2-19 to 3-14).
When it was put up to the Cats they had plenty to offer. A foul on Walter Walsh earned his team and TJ Reid a point. Then Colin Fennelly hit the target and it looked like the match was slipping away on the Leesiders again.
No so! They hit back and the gap was a mere 2-23 to 3-18 as the 68th minute was passed. Kilkenny, strong willed and more fluent in their play, finished with unanswered points from Reid, Billy Ryan, Bill Sheehan and Reid again to recover from the defeat to Wexford in the Leinster final as they made the last four.
If the players, especially Reid, Conor Fogarty, John Donnelly and Richie Hogan in the first half, and Richie Leahy afterwards all sparkled, the selectors hand a big hand in things by the way they revised their formation during the break.
Walter Walsh was strung from the bench, and he proceeded to score three points. Another sub, Billy Ryan landed a brace of scores, and after a few dodgy moments before he found his touch, Bill Sheehan came up with a score.
It all added up to a massive effort from Kilkenny, who have now taken a step further than they did in 2018 when they lost to Limerick in the quarter-finals.
Scorers: Kilkenny - TJ Reid (0-10); Richie Hogan (1-2); Colin Fennelly (1-1); Walter Walsh (0-3); Conor Fogarty, John Donnelly, Billy Ryan (0-2 each); Eoin Murphy, Conor Browne, Adrian Mullen, Richie Leahy, Bill Sheehan (0-1 each). Cork - Pat Horgan (3-10); Alan Cadogan (0-4); Seamus Harnedy (0-2); Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-1 each).
Kilkenny - Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, Huw Lawlor, Joey Holden; Paddy Deegan, Padraig Walsh, Cillian Buckley; Conor Browne, Conor Fogarty; Richie Hogan, TJ Reid, Richie Leahy; Adrian Mullen, Colin Fennelly, John Donnelly.
Subs - Walter Walsh for Buckley ht; Bill Sheehan for Hogan 49th min; James Maher for Browne 56th min; Billy Ryan for Donnelly 62nd min.
Cork - Anthony Nash; Sean O’Donoghue, Eoin Cadogan, Stepehen McDonnell; Niall O’Lary, Mark Ellis, Mark Coleman; Bill Cooper, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Daniel Kearney, Conor Lehane, Luke Meade; Alan Cadogan, Pat Horgan, Seamus Harnedy.
Subs - Robbie O’Flynn for Lehane 45th min; Shane Kingston for Kearney 46th min; Tim O’Mahony for Cooper 49th min; Damien Cahalane for O’Donoghue 54th min; Christopher Joyce for Meade 62nd min.
Referee - James Owens (Wexford).
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