Kilkenny’s early blitz ends Rebel resistance
KILKENNY 3-21 CORK 0-16
Game on: 4pm. Contest over: 4.11pm.
Kilkenny fizzed through the opening period in Thurles yesterday like men who were expertly programmed to impress on Cork’s new-look team that there’s a world of difference between routine league games and a final. Kilkenny led by 2-6 to 0-1 after 11 minutes, setting Cork a recovery target which was never likely to come anywhere close to being realised. By half-time Kilkenny were 14 points ahead (3-11 to 0-6), leaving Cork facing a further 35 minutes of torture. “From half-time on, we were fighting for respectability,” said Jimmy Barry-Murphy in an honest assessment of a game where the warning lights flashed for Cork right from the off. “We’d have liked to get a few goals to take the bare look off the scoreboard but we couldn’t manage it. “It’s very disappointing to be beaten by so much — we didn’t show what we’re capable of.”
Quick, low ball in the direction of full-forward Eoin Larkin caused all sorts of problems for Cork, whose full-back Stephen McDonnell couldn’t figure out how to tether his nimble opponent. Larkin whipped in Kilkenny’s first goal in the fifth minute and set Colin Fennelly up for a second five minutes later. The points were flowing too off the sticks of Michael Fennelly (one), Matthew Ruth (two) and Paddy Hogan (three) as Kilkenny grabbed power in a manner which left Cork in no doubt that they were up against a much different outfit than the one they beat by two points at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in March. It was as if the sight of the trophy gleaming on the presentation podium concentrated Kilkenny minds to a degree that took them much closer to the championship pace than Cork. Their third goal arrived just before the break, when the Cork defence finally surrendered to the sheer weight of pressure of another wave of attack, allowing TJ Reid an unchallenged strike which whizzed to the net.
Cork scored only two points from open play in the first half, whereas Kilkenny landed 3-7, with the remaining 0-4 evenly shared off frees from Larkin and Paddy Hogan. There was never the remotest chance that Cork would peg back a 14-point lead so the only real target they could give themselves for the second half was to make some inroads into the deficit. They failed on that front too (the second-half was drawn on 0-10 each) and even when Kilkenny dropped the tempo, they still had the craft to close Cork down.
The arrival of Darren Sweetnam for the second half brought vital energy to Cork around midfield but the attack found it all but impossible to figure out a way to create the goal openings they so badly needed. Barry-Murphy began repair work at half-time, sending Sweetnam on for Lorcan McLoughlin and Conor O’Sullivan for McDonnell and continued it in the second half as he withdrew two of his attackers, Paudie O’Sullivan and Niall McCarthy. O’Sullivan scored 3-6 in the run to the final but couldn’t build on it against JJ Delaney or sub Kieran Joyce.
Delaney withdrew at half-time with a leg injury and Kilkenny lost Michael Fennelly with a damaged ankle after 42 minutes but it made no appreciable difference to the overall trend. With the likes of Henry Shefflin, Richie Power, Noel Hickey, Michael Rice and Aidan Fogarty already unavailable, it underlines the remarkable depth of the Kilkenny panel that they could lose Delaney and Fennelly in the course of yesterday’s game and still win by 14 points. All six forwards, plus the two midfielders and wing-back Tommy Walsh all scored as Kilkenny racked up another huge score while not conceding a goal for a third successive game.
It all helped to install them as league champions for the sixth time in the Brian Cody era and left them signing off the spring campaign much happier than last year, when they were well beaten by Dublin in the final. That setback had no relevance in the championship, which will provide Cork with some encouragement as they sift through the debris of yesterday’s devastation. Barry-Murphy said afterwards that he hoped the nature of the defeat wouldn’t drain his players of too much confidence but there can be no doubt that losing a league final so heavily was the last thing they wanted after a campaign where their only previous defeat was against Galway.
Cork needed a bright start yesterday but it was clear from the off that Kilkenny were drumming to a much livelier beat. They drove at Cork in waves and once Larkin slipped in for the first goal, Kilkenny looked very much like a side which had ready answers to every Cork question. Conor Lehane, who had scored an average of almost four points per game in his previous six outings, was well marked by Richie Doyle in the first half and by Tommy Walsh later on, while Cork’s inside-forwards made little headway against the Kilkenny full-back line.
In fairness to Lehane, he continued to battle on bravely but with Kilkenny so dominant all over the field, there was little he or anybody else could do to alter the trend. Barry-Murphy admitted afterwards that Cork expected setbacks along the way as they re-configured the set-up, but they could never have anticipated that Kilkenny would accelerate to cruising speed so quickly. Clare stayed with Kilkenny until well into the second half in the semi-final but Cork couldn’t even match them over the first 10 minutes. It looked altogether as if Cork were overawed by the experience and once Kilkenny sensed weakness they wasted no time in racking up a match-winning total as quickly as possible. Now, the big question is what impact this defeat will have on Cork, who meet Limerick or Tipperary in the Munster semi-final in seven weeks’ time. Barry-Murphy insisted that they could take plenty of positives out of the league but yesterday was a dismal negative which they will need to wash from their system pretty quickly. As for Kilkenny, it was ruthless business as usual as the league trophy once again joined the Liam MacCarthy Cup in their trophy room.
Scorers — Kilkenny: E Larkin (3f), C Fennelly 1-4 each, TJ Reid 1-2, P Hogan (2f), M Ruth 0-3 each, M Fennelly, T Walsh, R Hogan, C Buckley, M Bergin 0-1 each. Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (6f, 1 pen), D Sweetnam 0-2, J Gardiner, N McCarthy, J Coughlan, W Egan (f), C Naughton 0-1 each.
Kilkenny — D Herity 7; P Murphy 8, JJ Delaney 7, J Tyrrell 7; T Walsh 8, B Hogan 7, R Doyle 7; M Fennelly 8, P Hogan 7; R Hogan 7, TJ Reid, 7 C Buckley 7; C Fennelly 8, E Larkin 9, M Ruth 7. Subs: K Joyce 7 for Delaney (ht), J Mulhall 6 for M Fennelly (42), M Bergin 6 for P Hogan (62).
Cork — M Coleman 6; S O’Neill 7, S McDonnell 5, B Murphy 6; S Og O hAilpin 6, E Cadogan 6, W Egan 6; L McLoughlin 5, J Gardiner 6; C Lehane 6, P Cronin 6, N McCarthy 5; L O’Farrell 5, P O’Sullivan 5, P Horgan 6. Subs: D Sweetnam 8 for McLoughlin (h-t), C O’Sullivan 6 for McDonnell (h-t), C Naughton 6 for O’Sullivan (46), J Coughlan 6 for McCarthy (50).
Ref — J McGrath (Westmeath)
Cats’ smash and grab
Cork 0-16 Kilkenny 3-21
By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper
There’s a film, Gone In 60 Seconds, about a master car-thief whose forte is to ‘lift’ any car in a minute or less. It took Kilkenny slightly longer than that in this Allianz Hurling League Division 1A final in Semple Stadium yesterday, but it was just as much a masterclass, in this case on how to lift silverware.
Cork came into this game with a growing reputation, and with Kilkenny hit hard by injury (four front-line forwards — Henry Shefflin, Richie Power, Michael Rice, Aidan Fogarty — along with regular full-back Noel Hickey out of commission) the young Rebels had even been cast as favourites in many quarters. Instead they received a hard lesson from the All-Ireland champions. You do not go into any game against Kilkenny mentally unprepared; definitely not a national final, but above all, not a national final against a Kilkenny team you’ve beaten just a few weeks earlier and that then has that sizeable chip on its shoulder.
That was the lesson Cork learned yesterday. Those first 11 minutes were a blitzkrieg, the kind of Kilkenny blitz we’ve seen so many times over the last all-conquering decade under Brian Cody. 2-6 to 0-1 Kilkenny led when the dust had settled, a shell-shocked Cork taken totally by surprise, their defences — outer and inner — obliterated.
Cork simply weren’t tuned in, weren’t ready for what hit them, and this was true all over the field. Four of those early points were by the Kilkenny midfielders, Paddy Hogan (who had a superb game) with two long-range frees and one from play, Michael Fennelly with the other. Then the two goals came from inside forwards, captain Eoin Larkin (man-of-the-match) with the first (5th minute), Colin Fennelly with the second (10th minute, after a Larkin pass). All over the field Cork were playing second-fiddle, not remotely near the pace of the game. Even keeper Martin Coleman, replacing the injured Donal Og Cusack but a seasoned player in his own right, was caught. He should have saved the first Kilkenny goal and fluffed a free before making a couple of nervy saves.
This wasn’t the Cork team that have shown so well all through the league. But this was the old Kilkenny. Even with all the new faces, guys like Richie Doyle, Paddy Hogan, Cillian Buckley and Matthew Ruth joining second-year heroes Paul Murphy and Colin Fennelly, this was a vintage performance from the Cats. Once that early blitz was over there was still no let-up in intensity. A third goal in the first-half, this one drilled home from close range by centre-forward TJ Reid after Larkin and Fennelly had both threatened, closed it out. At 3-11 to 0-6 behind at the break there was never going to be any way back for Cork.
Hope for the Rebels, a shaft of light? Well Shane O’Neill and Sean Óg Ó hAilpín had done reasonably well in the first-half, John Gardiner didn’t look out of place in midfield, Patrick Horgan always looked capable in the corner, but most of all, the half-time introduction of teenager Darren Sweetnam marked a turnaround in fortunes. Ten points apiece it was in the second-half, Sweeetnam a powerhouse in midfield landing two scores. James Coughlan also did well on his introduction, as did Conor O’Sullivan at the other end, but really, just grasping at straws. In that second-half Kilkenny lost midfielder Michael Fennelly to what looked like a serious ankle injury in the 42nd minute, lost his partner Paddy Hogan to a knee injury 20 minutes later, had lost full-back JJ Delaney at half-time, but never lost a beat and never looked even remotely like losing this game.
A 15th league title for them then, to go second alone behind Tipperary (19 titles), their sixth title under Brian Cody. For us all — for Cork, who challenged them, for those of us who doubted their strength in depth — it was yet another lesson, another masterclass in a long litany.
Scorers for Kilkenny: C Fennelly 1-4; E Larkin 1-4 (3f); TJ Reid 1-2; M Ruth 0-3; P Hogan 0-3 (2f); C Buckley, M Fennelly, T Walsh, R Hogan, M Bergin, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (6f, 1p); D Sweetnam 0-2; W Egan (f), J Gardiner, N McCarthy, C Naughton, J Coughlan, 0-1 each.
Subs for Kilkenny: K Joyce (Delaney inj. 35); J Mulhall (M Fennelly inj. 42); M Bergin (P Hogan inj. 62).
Subs for Cork: D Sweetnam (McLoughlin 35); C O’Sullivan (McDonnell 35); C Naughton (O’Sullivan 46); J Coughlan (McCarthy 50).
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)
Cats slay Cork to claim 15th Allianz League titleSunday, May 06, 2012
Report from the GAA.ie web site
Allianz Hurling League Final: Cork 0-16 Kilkenny 3-21
Kilkenny picked up their 15th Allianz Hurling League Division I title at Thurles this afternoon, scoring three first half goals to obliterate the Rebels in a one-side game. The Cats were 1-4 to 0-0 ahead before Cork had a chance to draw breath, Eoin Larkin having plundered their opening goal after just five minutes.
Cork were in disarray in the opening stages and conceded a second goal after 10 minutes, when Colin Fennelly drilled a shot past the helpless Cork goalkeeper, Martin Coleman. Jimmy Barry Murphy’s side desperately attempted to force their way back into the game, but they were dealt a hammer blow just before the break as TJ Reid grabbed Kilkenny’s third goal on the stroke of half-time, leaving his side 3-11 to 0-6 ahead.
Barry-Murphy brought Conor O’Sullivan on for the struggling Stephen McDonnell at the break, while Darren Sweetnam replaced Lorcán McLoughlin. Patrick Horgan and Niall McCarthy scored the opening points of the second half for the Rebels, but there was to be no way back for the Leesiders. Cork trailed by 14 points at the break and that was also the gap at the end of the game, with Pa Horgan, who scored 0-9 for the Rebels, drilling a penalty over the bar in the closing stages.
Cork: M Coleman; S O’Neill, S McDonnell, B Murphy; S Ó hAilpín, E Cadogan, W Egan; L McLoughlin, J Gardiner; C Lehane, P Cronin, N McCarthy; J Coughlan, P O’Sullivan, P Horgan. Subs: D Sweetnam for McLoughlin (HT), C O’Sullivan for McDonnell, C Naughton for O’Sullivan (46), J Coughlan for McCarthy (51).
Kilkenny: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, R Doyle; M Fennelly, P Hogan; R Hogan, TJ Reid, C Buckley; C Fennelly, E Larkin, M Ruth. Subs: J Mulhall for M Fennelly (41), M Bergin for Hogan (62).
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)
The Cork Senior Hurling team to play Kilkenny in Sunday’s Allianz Hurling League Final in Thurles on Sunday at 4pm will line out as follows:
1. Martin Coleman
2. Shane O’Neill 3. Stephen McDonnell 4. Brian Murphy
5. Seán Óg hAilpín 6. Eoin Cadogan 7. William Egan
8. Lorcán McLoughlin 9. John Gardiner
10. Conor Lehane 11. Pa Cronin 12. Niall McCarthy
13. Luke O’Farrell 14. Paudie O’Sullivan 15. Patrick Horgan
16. Anthony Nash Kanturk
17. Conor O’Sullivan Sarfields
18. Damien Cahalane St. Finbarr’s
19. Tom Kenny Grenagh
20. Christopher Joyce Na Piarsaigh
21. Darren Sweetnam Dohenys
22. Ross Cashman Kilbrittain
23. Jamie Coughlan Newtownshandrum
24. Cathal Naughton Newtownshandrum
25. Cian McCarthy Sarsfields
26. Brian Corry Ballymartle
In the absence of Dónal Óg Cusack, who is expected to miss the rest of the season following an Achilles tendon injury sustained in the semi-final, Patrick Horgan captains the Cork side, while in one of three changes to the team that started that game against Tipperary, Martin Coleman assumes the No. 1 position. Having recovered from injury, Brian Murphy returns to the corner back position, at the expense of Conor O’Sullivan, while Conor Lehane comes back in at wing forward, with Jamie Coughlan named in the subs. With Cork’s interest in inter-county U21 football now concluded, Damien Cahalane joins the panel.
Discount tickets for Sunday’s Allianz Hurling League decider in Thurles can be bought in advance from four SuperValu / Centra outlets in Kilkenny; 16 SuperValu / Centra outlets in Cork and online at gaa.ie/tickets. Tickets are also available from the participating County Boards. A €5 discount applies to stand ticket purchases only, made in advance before midnight Saturday. Tickets bought online can be printed off beforehand to avoid any potential queues on the day.
Family tickets can be purchased in advance for €20 for adults and €5 for juveniles or on match day for €25 for adults. Terrace tickets cost €15 for adults and €5 for juveniles. Senior citizens and students can purchase stand tickets in advance at the above outlets for €20 or on match day €25 and claim €10 back at the designated concession stiles on Sunday.
Group passes are also available through GAA Clubs €3 per juvenile with one adult free with every ten juveniles.