Cody has comfort for Cork after Cats coast home in second half

Kilkenny 0-22 - Cork 0-15: A tale of two halves in blustery Nowlan Park yesterday, with the home side surfing a six-point scoring burst after the break to pick up a first win of their 2017 Allianz League campaign.
Cody has comfort for Cork after Cats coast home in second half

Kilkenny were imperious in the second-half and outscored Cork 11 points to five after an opening 35 minutes that was very closely contested.

The home manager offered this quick precis of the game at the final whistle.

“They (Cork) were strong, in the first-half there was nothing at all in it,” said Brian Cody.

“We got a few scores then in the second-half, but Cork were excellent. They’ve had one excellent game in the league and were probably disappointed the last day (against Dublin).

“Today they were very good for a large portion of the game and even at the end they were still coming strong, we had to defend very strongly. There’s a real serious team there.”

The home support in the 6,906 present saw Kilkenny get off to a good start, leading 0-3 to 0-1 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 Lehane tied the game up on 10 minutes, 0-4 each.

Reid and Lehane were the main scorers for their respective sides, but significantly Reid had good support from Richie Hogan, whereas Lehane was ploughing a lonelier furrow.

Still, it was 0-11 to 0-10 at the break.

The nip and tuck continued on the resumption until Kilkenny cut loose with a run of scores - Conor Martin, Reid, Hogan (two) and Walter Walsh (two) pushed the home side six ahead on 48 minutes, and Cork’s three wides in a row in response looked fatal.

They also needed Anthony Nash to make a terrific save from Colin Fennelly to stay in touch.

Moreover, when sub Cormac Murphy got a straight red with 10 minutes left it removed any chance Cork had of salvaging the game, and Kilkenny had seven to spare at the finish.

“Although we weren’t leading (at half time) we weren’t concerned about that,” said Cork boss Kieran Kingston afterwards.

“We wanted to get back into the dressing room in a good position and we did that.

“What’s been synonymous with this Kilkenny team is they come at you hard in the second-half.

“We spoke about that, and we weren’t able to match it.

“The game petered away from us after 15 or 20 minutes of the second-half. They dominated that period. We struggled to come to terms with their work rate and intensity, we struggled after that.

“Any time you lose a game is a worry - any time you feel you’re out-muscled is a worry as well. The second half was concerning. This is a huge learning curve for them. Playing Kilkenny in Nowlan Park when (the team) need points was always going to be a tough ask. We are trying to get a balance between youth and experience in our squad.

“That’s going to take a while. It’s not an excuse. It’s a fact.”

Though Brian Cody didn’t see the visitors as lacking in the physical stakes (“I don’t think that was obvious,”), players like Cillian Buckley and Colin Fennelly imposed themselves on the game in a way Cork’s youngsters couldn’t.

Those youngsters are on a tactical learning curve also: the Cork attack didn’t address Kilkenny’s spare man at the back and as a result Lehane and Cadogan often struggled for possession.

In the black and amber corner the dynamic is a little different.

It was no surprise Cody cited the influence of the hard-working Colin Fennelly afterwards, for instance, as a vital ingredient in Kilkenny’s win, as that voracious work rate and willingness to scrap was missing in the Cats’ defeat to Clare in particular.

They’ll need all of that next weekend. Saturday night in Semple Stadium against Tipperary will be a rigorous, rigorous test.

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).

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