|Cork overwhelmed by Kilkenny - Sunday, August 08, 2010
|The Cats produced another exhibition of hurling at Croke Park today, thumping Cork by 3-22 to 0-19.
The Black & Amber brigade remain on course for their fifth successive All-Ireland title, progressing to the final with an emphatic dismantling of their fierce rivals in this one-sided encounter.
Kilkenny totally bossed the first half to take a 13-point lead into the break, 2-12 to 0-5. Aidan Fogarty and Eddie Brennan supplied the first-half goals within a scorching five-minute spell (with Richie Power netting in the second period) and the brilliant reigning champions had eight different first-half scorers from play, including all six starting forwards and sub Martin Comerford. In contrast, none of Cork's forwards scored from play before the interval.
Even the double loss of centre back Brian Hogan (shoulder) and centre forward Henry Shefflin (knee) during the first half did nothing to slow Kilkenny's relentless march. The sides were level on 0-2 each after 15 minutes but Cork were simply unable to stay with the Leinster champions who produced yet another masterclass from there to the short whistle.
Rebel County boss Denis Walsh made two late changes to his team, with Shane Murphy and Cian McCarthy - son of the legendary Teddy - brought into the starting XV in place of Shane O'Neill (who failed to shake off a hamstring injury) and Michael Cussen respectively. The loss of O'Neill was a big blow to the Leesiders. As is their wont, Kilkenny started as selected.
The breeze picked up just ahead of throw-in and there was no doubting the passion of the occasion as both teams received rapturous receptions as they did their pre-match parade of the resplendent Croker pitch. A minute's silence was respectfully observed for late Tipperary gael Mick Frawley and the Garda Siochana band performed Amhrán na bhFiann before the action commenced.
The Cats had a dream start when Aidan Fogarty pointed within six seconds and the tension spilled over immediately as a melee broke out at the other end, under Hill 16, with Cork full forward Aisake Ó hAilpín and his marker Noel Hickey picking up yellow cards for their parts in the fracas.
James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick struck an early wide and John Gardiner was also off target with a long-range free. Shefflin was next to clip an uncharacteristic wide after catching Cork dawdling in possession. In the seventh minute, Shefflin showed trademark composure to drill over a point from play. Richie Power and Eoin Larkin had seen the red door slammed in their faces at the end of the previous Cats attack.
The early exchanges were fiercely-contested - bone-jarring at times - and some tenacious Cork defending kept the Noresiders at bay, including a decent Donal Ó Cusack save from Power. Ben O'Connor opened Cork's account from a tricky free on twelve minutes after an uncompromising Jackie Tyrrell tackle on Cian McCarthy. Pat Horgan and Cathal Naughton had wides either side of that Rebel point.
A rush of blood to the head saw Niall McCarthy fruitlessly try his luck from huge distance and the same player saw his next effort pulled down from over the crossbar by ever-vigilant Cats 'keeper PJ Ryan before Ben O'Connor added his second free to level the scores after 15 minutes.
Kilkenny suffered a blow with the loss of centre back Brian Hogan to a shoulder injury, replaced by James Ryall. Within seconds of the enforced switch, Power took a lovely point after a JJ Delaney pass. In the 17th minute, Brennan pounced for his 27th championship goal. Shefflin surged through the middle and laid off the pass to the corner man, who drilled a low shot past the despairing, hapless Cusack.
A tidy Naughton strike reduced the deficit but Cian McCarthy followed up with Cork's fifth wide from distance. Perhaps the Rebels would have been better advised to drop those balls in around the goalmouth? Shefflin punished them with a pointed free after being fouled by Sean Ó hAilpín.
Fogarty provided Kilkenny's second major in the 22nd minute and the No.15 - making his first start since last year's All-Ireland final - followed up immediately with a superb point: 2-5 to 0-3. Power seemed to possibly impede Cusack as the high delivery dropped down in the lead-up to the second Cats goal, but there was no free-out forthcoming and the Rebels were left reeling.
Shefflin walked out of the action after landing awkwardly and jarring his knee, but there was no let-up in the onslaught as his replacement Martin Comerford pointed within seconds of entering the fray. Power (free) and Michael Fennelly struck 'overs' to bookend Comerford's point and the All-Ireland champions led by eleven points after 28 minutes.
Just short of the half-hour, Power rose like a salmon to fetch Ryan's long delivery and he turned to pop the ball over the bar … 2-9 to 0-3. Former Hurler of the Year Larkin got on the scoresheet in the 32nd minute and Ben O'Connor replied with a routine Cork free. Sean Óg Ó hAilpín followed up with a point from distance but TJ Reid became the seventh Kilkenny forward to score when he dropped one over in the final minute of first-half normal time.
Power boomed over a lovely free from way out the field in the second minute of injury time and O'Connor's late miss summed up the Rebels' nightmare first half. At the break, Brian Cody's charges were in total command: 2-12 to 0-5.
The underdogs threw in Willie Egan and Paudie O'Sullivan at the break but it was Kilkenny who struck first with a brace of Power frees. Brennan added their third in as many minutes to extend the gap to 16. It was four in four minutes when 'Cha' knocked over another beauty from play - the ninth Kilkenny player to register. Game Over.
After a flurry of Kilkenny misses that won't have pleased their manager, Ben O'Connor popped over a simple Cork free. The Rebels were then awarded a soft penalty when Horgan threw himself into the large parallelogram and the No.13 saw his shot tapped over by Ryan. The Glen Rovers clubman followed up with an instant point from play off his left side.
Horgan took his third point in two minutes after good work from substitute Jerry O'Connor. That was four in a row from the Rebels but 'Cha' tipped one over at the Hill 16 end to stretch the gap to 14 points, 2-17 to 0-9, and Gardiner grabbed a tenth Cork score on the stroke of the three-quarters mark. Horgan showed super industry and skill to take his fourth point of the second half on 54 minutes.
Comerford pointed and Power was clean through for a third Kilkenny major only to miscue from straight in front of the posts. In the 58th minute, Power tapped over a free to put 14 between the sides again but this was cancelled out by a Ben O'Connor free. Carrickshock clubman Power pegged his eighth point from a free on the hour, with Gardiner this time replying.
In the 62nd minute, Power added a clinical goal to his impressive tally, making a fabulous catch before instantly driving an unstoppable shot into the net. The entire Kilkenny full-forward line had each got a goal now…
Ben O'Connor (free), Niall McCarthy and the lively Jerry O'Connor mustered a trio of consolation points and the next two scores were exchanged by Ben O'Connor and Tommy Walsh. Ryan made a late save to deny Cork replacement Cussen and Gardiner fired the Rebels' first wide of the second half on 68 minutes.
Fennelly and Horgan (with two points) closed the scoring as the unbelievable Cats progressed to their eleventh final in 13 years. Best team ever? You better believe it.
Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; John Dalton, Noel Hickey, Jackie Tyrrell; Tommy Walsh (0-1), Brian Hogan, JJ Delaney; James Fitzpatrick (0-2), Michael Fennelly (0-2); TJ Reid (0-1), Henry Shefflin (0-2), Eoin Larkin (0-1); Eddie Brennan (1-1), Richie Power (1-8), Aidan Fogarty (1-2). Subs: James Ryall, Martin Comerford (0-2), Michael Rice, John Mulhall, Derek Lyng.
Cork: Donal Óg Cusack; Shane Murphy, Eoin Cadogan, Brian Murphy; John Gardiner (0-2), Ronan Curran, Sean Óg Ó hAilpín (0-1); Tom Kenny, Cathal Naughton (0-1); Cian McCarthy, Kieran Murphy, Niall McCarthy (0-1); Patrick Horgan (0-6), Aisake Ó hAilpín, Ben O'Connor (0-7). Subs: William Egan, Paudie O'Sullivan, Jerry O'Connor (0-1), Michael Cussen, Graham Callanan.