Kilkenny ran out comfortable winners over fourteen-man Cork on a blustery day in Kilkenny, the 6,906 in attendance getting a lively NHL Division 1A encounter, writes Michael Moynihan.
The visitors played into the dressing-room end in the first half and appeared to have the swirling breeze behind them, but Kilkenny were 0-3 to 0-1 up on five minutes, talisman TJ Reid operating close to the Cork goal and Richie Hogan coming outfield.
The men in red pulled Seamus Harnedy outfield and kept Conor Lehane and Alan Cadogan in a two man full forward line, and the latter tied the game up on ten minutes, 0-4 each.
Reid and Lehane swapped scores, with Kilkenny nudging one ahead on twenty minutes. The Cats’ efficiency pushed them three ahead as half-time approached - they had two wides to Cork’s six in those 35 minutes - but Lehane’s accuracy from placed balls cut that to one at the break, 0-11 to 0-10.
The nip and tuck continued on the resumption until Kilkenny cut loose - Conor Martin, Reid, Hogan (two) and Walter Walsh (two) pushed Kilkenny six ahead on 48 minutes: Cork’s three wides in a row in response looked fatal, and the visitors needed Anthony Nash to make a terrific save from Colin Fennelly.
However, when Cormac Murphy got a straight red with ten minutes left it removed any chance Cork had, and Kilkenny had plenty to spare at the finish.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid (5 frees, 0-7); R. Hogan (0-5); W. Walsh, R. Leahy (0-3 each); E. Murphy (frees, 0-2); C. Buckley, C. Martin (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cork: C. Lehane (4 frees, 2 65s, 0-10); A. Cadogan (0-2); S. Harnedy, D. Brosnan, B. Cooper (0-1 each).
KILKENNY: E. Murphy, P. Murphy, P. Walsh, C. O’Shea, C. Fogarty, J. Cleere, K. Joyce, C. Buckley, P. Deegan (c), R. Hogan, C. Fennelly, R. Leahy, W. Walsh, TJ Reid, C. Martin.
Subs: S. Prendergast for Joyce (HT); J. Maher for Leahy (65)
CORK: A. Nash, K. Burke, D. Cahalane, C. Spillane, C. Joyce, M. Ellis, M. Coleman, B. Cooper, D. Kearney, D. Brosnan, S. Harnedy, S. Kingston A. Cadogan (c), C. Lehane, L. Meade.
Subs: C. Murphy for Kearney (inj., 22): P. Horgan for Kingston, S. McDonnell for Burke (both 57); L. O’Farrell for Meade (64).
Referee: J. McGrath (Westmeath).