Second-half flourish sends title to Cork

Cork 0-17 Kilkenny 0-9

Cork won their 29th All-Ireland Hurling Championship title and denied Kilkenny a third successive crown at Croke Park today.

The resurgent Rebels turned in a power-packed second half performance to eclipse the champions, who managed just two points after the break.

The champions failed to drive home the advantage in the opening half, when after dominating for long periods, they took a slender one point advantage into the break.

The danger signs were already there for Brian Cody's side, for they had failed to hut a misfiring Cork side, and they paid the price.

It took Kilkenny almost nine minutes to get their first score, but within 60 seconds Henry Shefflin and Cha Fitzpatrick had cancelled out Joe Deane's early point to ease the All-Ireland champions ahead.

Deane carved open the Cats' defence to send a fierce shot crashing against the crossbar, and Ben O'Connor drilled the rebound into the side netting.

A relieved Kilkenny side responded with a scoring flourish which brought scores from skipper Martin Comerford (2) and Shefflin to go three clear.

JJ Delaney was in superb form in the Cats' defence, breaking up a series of attacks, and playing a huge part in a superb score by midfielder Derek Lyng, who darted through the middle before planting the ball firmly between the posts.

Deane's free taking was Cork's only scoring threat, his three strikes all they had to show for the opening half-hour.

But for all Kilkenny's dominance at midfield and at half back, they were only two points ahead when Ben O'Connor blasted over a long range free to narrow the gap three minutes before the interval.

Brian Corcoran tagged on the Rebels' first score from play, and now just a point separated the sides.

Shefflin took over the long range free taking duties from DJ Carey, and planted one straight between the posts, but Jerry O'Connor responded instantly with a Cork point, and Deane slid the ball just wide with a half chance of a goal.

Cork had been outplayed for most of the first half, but trailed by just a point at the break, 0-7 to 0-6, and Deane brought them level within a minute of the restart.

Two Ciarán Murphy points had the Munster men back in front by the 49th minute, and at last they were beginning to show the fluency and flair which had been their trademark throughout the season.

Kilkenny were struggling to get the ball to their front men, and when Shefflin did manage to get a strike on target, Donal Óg Cuasck saved superbly.

Cork were on a roll, and when O'Connor and Deane were on target again, they led by four with 12 minutes to play.

Jerry O'Connor reversed Kilkenny's midfield dominance with safe fetching and strong running, and Kilkenny's sporadic raids produced a handful of wides.

Two more frees from Deane and Ben O'Connor left the champions desperately needing a goal, six points behind with three minutes to play.

The Cork defence, with full back Diarmuid O'Connor virtually unbeatable, was determined not to give way, and Corcoran rounded off a triumphant afternoon for Cork with a glorious late score.

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