Gardiner inspires Cork to victory over 14-man Cats

Cork 0-18 Kilkenny 1-13

Cork 0-18 Kilkenny 1-13

Cork have made it three wins from three in the National Hurling League after an explosive encounter at Páirc Uí Chaoimh which saw them overcome 14-man Kilkenny.

The Rebels took the win thanks to late two points from substitute Paudie O’Sullivan in a game that was lit up by the imperious John Gardiner. The former captain struck seven points from the wing back position with five coming from the placed ball.

The match itself took off a ferocious pace and continued like that throughout. Kilkenny were awarded an early penalty as Richie Power was dragged down in the square. The Carrickshock man dusted himself down to take the penalty himself but it was brilliantly stopped by Donal Og Cusack in the Cork goal. From the resulting puckout Cork captain Kieran ‘Fraggy’ Murphy broke clear to fire a shot towards the top corner only to be denied by an equally classy stop from All-Star Kilkenny keeper P.J. Ryan.

The Rebels took over for the next five minutes hitting four unanswered points from Gardiner, Kenny and two from Pa Horgan at corner forward. Kilkenny finally got on the scoreboard in the eighth minute when the excellent John Mulhall pointed from 30 yards.

Power then atoned for his penalty miss with some fine stick work to pull the ball out of the air to double the Cats total. Power traded frees with Horgan and Gardiner respectively before some great work from P.J Delaney lead to Michael Grace reducing the deficit to a single point.

Grace finally brought Kilkenny back to parity in the 32nd minute following a great run at the Cork defence. Horgan and Mulhall ticked further points on the scoreboard for their sides and Kilkenny hit the front for the first time in stoppage time at the end of the first half through well-struck Mulhall point.

Niall McCarthy hit his first score of the day to bring Cork back level.

It was a this point it all kicked off with several players squaring up to each other on the open stand side of Páirc Uí Chaoimh. A melee then ensued with fists and hurleys flying, and it took referee Dickie Murphy several minutes to restore order.

Michael Grace was picked out by ref Murphy and was shown the red card but it is hard to understand why he was the only player singled out as there were many who deserved to be at least booked if not sent to the showers. With calm restored, Power would show his class with yet another free to end a breathless half finely balanced at eight points apiece.

Starting the second half with 14 men following Grace’s dismissal, Kilkenny were determined not to roll over and Mulhall gave them the lead again with a huge score from the right. Gardiner would answer Mulhall with an equally big score from centre field.

Gardiner followed that with a double as John Mulhall sandwiched a point in between. Cork were then caught out as they tried to work the ball out of defence, Power pounced on Shane O’Neill and slipped in Mulhall with a handpass the St Martins forward did not disappoint from 20 yards, striking low and hard under the despairing Cusack for the only goal of the contest.

Gardiner though would drag Cork back into the game with a 65 and then using his skill to avoid several Kilkenny players and offload to Newtownshandrum’s Cathal Naughton who brought the sides level from 70 yards. Power and Gardiner tacked on further frees before great pressure from ‘Fraggy’ Murphy led to Jerry O’Conner hitting a massive score from the left for Cork to hit the front again.

Gardiner and McCarthy have been reinvigorated under Walsh, and they helped open up a two point gap with further scores.

Power would point before Paudie O’Sullivan would keep the gap at two with some fantastic determination to shake off Hickey.

Power closed the gap to one in stoppage time with a final free. With time up, Cork seemed unaware of the new rule which can only see the game end when the ball runs out of play, and with the two minutes of added-on time well over, the Rebels went in search of another score.

This could have lead to an equaliser for the Cats, but O’Sullivan showed outrageous skill to flick the ball off the ground into his hand and spin to shoot between the posts to end the match; queue the standing ovation and pitch invasion from the home crowd as Cork finally put the ghost of that 27-point mauling at Nowlan Park last year firmly to rest.

Cork Team: D. Og Cusack, S. O'Neill, E. Cadogan, S. Murphy, J. Gardiner, R. Curran, B. Murphy, T. Kenny, C. Naughton, B. O'Connor (M. Cussen, 55), M. O'Sullivan (J. O’Connor, 48), N. McCarthy, K. Murphy, A. O hAilpín, P. Horgan (P. O’Sullivan, 51).

Kilkenny Team: P.J. Ryan, C. Hickey, B. Hogan, J. Dalton, T. Walsh, J. Tyrrell, J.J. Delaney (S. Cummins, 66), J. Tennyson, P.J. Delaney (James Ryall, 50), J. Mulhall, W. O’Dwyer (E. Brennan, 42), E. Larkin, M. Grace, R. Power, A. Fogarty.

Cork Scorers: J. Gardiner 0-7 (0-2, 65’s, 0-3, frees), P. Horgan 0-4 (0-2, frees), P. O’Sullivan 0-2, N. McCarthy 0-2, T. Kenny 0-1, J. O’Connor 0-1, C. Naughton 0-1.

Kilkenny Scorers: R. Power 0-7 (0-4, frees), J. Mulhall 1-3, M. Grace 0-2, E. Larkin 0-1.

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