An Orla Cotter stoppage-time free gave Cork their second successive All-Ireland senior title and fourth in five years as Kilkenny were made to pay late once again.
The Seán O’Duffy Cup will remain on Leeside as Cotter, with his fourth free of the day, sent over a majestic free into the Hill 16 End to settle a forgettable final pockmarked by frees and edge out the Cats for the second time in 12 months.
In front of a 21,467 crowd, Cork, while hardly at full-pelt, were considerably sharper than Kilkenny in front of the posts although the Kilkenny sideline were furious with Eamon Cassidy for awarding Cotter that winning free. Claire Phelan had a chance to level it soon after but sent the ball wide, one of eight for Kilkenny in contrast to Cork’s four.
Aoife Murray was sharp to deny Anna Farrell and then Miriam Walsh in the 52nd minute and from the resultant 45 Denise Gaule put Kilkenny ahead but Amy O’Connor and Chloe Sigerson from a long-range free sent Cork clear. Gaule responded with another free but then Cotter landed the decisive score.
Kilkenny were certainly the more eager team at the beginning but they only had one point to show for the opening 13 minutes. Cork, whose forwards were playing silly beggars with the Kilkenny defenders bunching in the penalty area before throw-in, worked their way into the game and their opening four scores came from placed balls, two of them Cotter frees.
There was controversy inn the eighth minute when Cork were granted a penalty after Amy O’Connor was brought down in the area as much as the challenge on her by Gaule looked to be caused by momentum more than anything else.
Murray sent her shot over the bar and Cork led 0-4 to 0-1 but they were hauled back by the 18th minute, Gaule getting her own back with a fine free in the 14th minute followed by a 65 after a shot that dropped short caused Cork difficulty. A Kilkenny puck-out was worked out sharply for Julie-Ann Malone’s equaliser.
Cork composed themselves and went two up through another long-range Sigerson free and a Katrina Mackey free but Kilkenny enjoyed another strong spell in the final five minutes of normal time in the half. The Cats were making great impact down their left wing, Gaule punishing three fouls with superb free-taking and she then landed a monster point after Anne Dalton has set her up.
However, Cork saw out the half in style through Orla Cronin, finishing off two fine moves to ensure last year’s champions went in at the break on level terms, 0-8 apiece.
Scorers for Cork: O. Cotter (0-5, frees); C. Sigerson (0-3, frees); K. Mackey, O. Cronin (0-2 each); A. Murray (pen), A. O’Connor (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilkenny: D. Gaule (0-10, 7 frees, 2 45s); M. Quilty, J.A. Malone, M. Farrell (0-1 each).
CORK: A. Murray (c); P. Mackey, L. O’Sullivan; L. Treacy; H. Looney, L. Coppinger, C. Sigerson; A. Thompson, G. O’Connor; J. White, O. Cronin, A. O’Connor; K. Mackey, L. Collins.
Subs for Cork: L. Homan for L. Collins (50); N. McCarthy for A. O’Connor (60+4).
KILKENNY: E. Kavanagh; C. Foley, D. Tobin; A. Dalton; G. Walsh, C. Phelan, J. Clifford, C. Dormer; M. Farrell, D. Gaule; J.A. Malone, M. Quilty, S. Farrell (c); A. Farrell, K. Power.
Sub for Kilkenny: M. Walsh for M. Quilty (35).
Referee: E. Cassidy (Derry).