Fennelly double proves decisive as Cats scrape past plucky Cork
The Fennelly name lit up Croke Park once more as Kilkenny produced a strong second half performance to just edge out Cork in the curtain-raiser at Croke Park.
Kilkenny 3-6 Cork 1-11
Keeva Fennelly was central to the effort, scoring two goals as Kilkenny overturned a four-point interval deficit to get their hands on the Jack McGrath Cup.
Fennelly's father Ger won three All-Ireland SHC medals with Kilkenny - including one as captain while Michael and Colin have been among the latest generation gracing Croke Park but it was their first cousin's turn to capture the headlines this time, finishing expertly on the double to break Cork hearts.
It had looked bleak for the victors in the first half and they could probably count themselves slightly fortunate to be only 0-7 to 0-3 behind at half time.
Cork's Linda Collins was on fire and the full-forward had three points as Paudie Murray's side scorched into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead after 20 minutes.
Crucially, Collins had a goal attempt blocked that would have put them seven clear while Ciara Holden kept Kilkenny in contention with her second and third points.
Amy Lee then did well to deny Kilkenny an opening goal but Finola Neville and Rachel O'Shea were on the mark to give Cork a four point cushion at the break.
Kilkenny returned to the pitch with their intent visible in their body language.
It showed as they were level within three minutes, Holden pointing before Jenny Clifford hand-passed to the Cork net.
The momentum swung back in the Leesiders' direction however as Collins provided a resounding finish for a goal in the 38th minute after Caroline Sugrue's dancing feet had created the chance.
Sugrue laid the groundwork for a magnificent point by Collins from the next attack and Cork were four ahead once more.
Within a minute, Fennelly did well to hand-pass to the Cork net though and she repeated the trick five minutes later.
Both sides had plenty of opportunities in the final quarter but despite points from O'Shea, Collins and the final score of the game from Keeva McCarthy, Kilkenny just kept their noses in front, with Holden's successful free moments earlier proving decisive.
SCORERS - KILKENNY: K Fennelly 2-0; C Holden 0-5 (4fs); J Clifford 1-0; A Fahey 0-1 CORK: L Collins 1-5; R O'Shea 0-4(3fs); F Neville, K McCarthy 0-1 each
KILKENNY - K Maher, R Phelan, J Norris, N Sweeney, N Leahy, K Nolan, E Frisby, A Kenneally, L Greene, K Fennelly, C Holden, J Clifford, S Walsh, Á Fahey, E Coonan. Subs: C Walsh for Coonan (42), L Phelan for Sweeney (45), C Phelan for Fahey (52)
CORK - A Lee, L Coppinger, L Weste, N Ní Chaoimh, J Crowley, S Buckley, S Harrington, C Sigerson, J Barry, K Hickey, S Fahy, F Neville, R O'Shea, L Collins, C Sugrue. Subs: E Murphy for Coppinger (41), L Lynch for O'Shea (46), K McCarthy for Fahy (49)
REF - J McDonagh (Galway)