Cork end Cats unbeaten run to thrill home crowd

Cork 1-17 Kilkenny 1-15

Kilkenny's unbeaten record in this year’s Allianz Hurling League Division 1A was broken by Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh as the home side came good in the closing stages.

Outscoring the All-Ireland champions by 0-7 to 0-2 in the final 28 minutes, Cork now join the Cats on six points at the top of the table, knowing that victory against Tipperary in Thurles next weekend will put them into the knockout stages of the competition.

What makes the win all the more impressive from a Cork point of view is that twice in the opening half the hosts trailed by four points, first by 0-6 to 0-2 after a Richie Power-inspired Kilkenny began impressively, and then after a point and a goal from Power around the half-hour made it 1-8 to 0-7.

Crucially, however, the next score after Power’s goal - from the penalty spot, after he had been fouled himself – was a green flag for the hosts, Paudie O’Sullivan controlling the ball well after a Lorcán McLoughlin free dropped around the square before firing past David Herity in the Kilkenny goal.

Prior to that, Cork had battled well to stay in touch with Kilkenny, with Shane O’Neill and William Egan doing well in defence while McLoughlin and Darren Sweetnam broke even against the illustrious Kilkenny midfield pairing of Michael Rice and Michael Fennelly.

Patrick Horgan impressed from frees for Cork, but at the other end Power, who would finish with a tally of 1-11, was almost flawless, though Richie Hogan was the only other Kilkenny forward to score more than a point.

Nonetheless, the Cats led by 1-10 to 1-8 at half-time, and early in the second half had stretched that advantage to three points, 1-13 to 1-10, seemingly set to keep up their 100% record.

They would only score two more points, however, and the statistic of just a point from play in the whole of the second half is indicative of how impressive Cork were at the back, full-back Stephen McDonnell and centre-back Eoin Cadogan both stepping up manfully.

While they had more of the play, Cork were unable to immediately convert it into scores but bit by bit they clawed back the deficit, an Egan free from his own 65 followed by a point from Jamie Coughlan, set up by the excellent Conor Lehane, before Horgan levelled with a free after he had been fouled himself.

After Kilkenny wasted chances to go back in front, Horgan put Cork ahead for the first time since early in the game and but Power responded to that and then to Pa Cronin’s point to leave it level with five minutes left.

Horgan was on hand twice for Cork, though, leaving two up at the finish, Kilkenny finishing with 14 men as Power was red-carded in injury time for pulling across Cadogan under a puckout.

CORK: D Óg Cusack; S O’Neill, S McDonnell, B Murphy; S Óg Ó hAilpín, E Cadogan, W Egan (0-2, 0-1 65, 0-1f); L McLoughlin, D Sweetnam (0-1); C Lehane (0-1), P Cronin (0-1), C Naughton (0-2); J Coughlan (0-1), P O’Sullivan (1-1), P Horgan (0-8, 0-7f).

Subs: N McCarthy for Naughton (48), J Gardiner for Sweetnam (69).

KILKENNY: D Herity; P Murphy, N Hickey, W Phelan; K Joyce, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; M Fennelly, M Rice (0-1); TJ Reid (0-1), R Power (1-11, 0-9f), M Ruth; E Murphy, E Larkin, R Hogan (0-2).

Subs: C Fennelly for E Murphy (43), A Fogarty for Reid (51), J Mulhall for Ruth (59).

Referee: M Wadding (Waterford).

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