Cody hails Cats' 'fight' after last-gasp Power breaks Rebel hearts
Kilkenny 2-23 Cork 2-22
Kilkenny led for about five minutes in total at Páirc Uí RInn on Saturday night, but at the end they were ahead by a point thanks to John Power's late winner.
Having turned a six-point deficit into a two-point lead, the Cats seemed forced to settle for a draw after two Conor Lehane scores drew Cork level.
Bill Cooper might have won it for Cork only to shoot wide, and then home goalkeeper Patrick Collins, in attempting to start one last attack, sent the ball straight to Power, who fired it over.
It meant a fourth defeat from four for Cork, which means that they are in the relegation play-off regardless of how next week's game against Tipperary goes.
For Kilkenny, it was a classic case of refusing to give up, which pleased manager Brian Cody.
"It's about every second of the game and the whole thing goes on forever," he said. "The attitude, the fight, we had different players who stood up at different times. In the second half we came out and showed great attitude to get back into the game.
"With five minutes to go it looked like they were going to win but it goes to the final whistle. The attitude of constantly keeping going was there. Five, six, seven points isn't a huge lead in hurling."
Beating a Cork side whose pride had been questioned was particularly satisfactory.
"They came into the game under a bit of a cloud," said Cody.
"But we knew it was absolutely the worst time to be playing Cork after last weekend; they're a proud hurling county and such a skilful hurling team. Their form wasn't right last weekend but it was right here - they really, really tore into us.
"They slaughtered us at times, and for us to walk off the field having won the game was a very good achievement."
Playing in blue jerseys reminiscent of a century ago as part of a 1916 commemoration, Cork can at least take heart from a performance where they showed more gumption than in the previous three losses.
They roared into the game, Séamus Harnedy setting the tone from full-forward; his goal on 13 minutes put them 1-5 to 0-3 ahead.
The excellent Cormac Murphy and Patrick Horgan put them seven in front and it wasn't flattering, but TJ Reid and Walter Walsh instigated a Kilkenny revival. While Horgan's late point left four in it at half-time, the Cats were ahead by the 44th minute after a good start to the second half but Cork refused to yield.
The game was tied at 1-14 to 0-17 when Harnedy again managed to win possession despite being outnumbered. Though his effort was kept out, Cooper was on hand to prod home the rebound and the impressive Luke O'Farrell extended the lead before Harnedy's wonderful score made it a five-point game.
With six minutes left, they were ahead by as many points - 2-20 to 0-20 - but Kilkenny still had a kick left. Reid's 12th point was followed by Colin Fennelly bustling home a goal and then Lester Ryan, a second-minute sub for Conor Fogarty, got his third point. Seizing the momentum, they went two ahead when Reid got in for a goal.
And yet, Cork had a response again, this time with two points from Conor Lehane. Cooper might have won it only to shoot wide, but a draw seemed the likeliest result until Collins gifted possession to Power for the winner.
"That's Kilkenny, you never count them out, but we also created a couple of good chances at the end to win the game that we didn't take, but it's a learning curve," said manager Kieran Kingston.
Cork selector Pat Ryan did at least find some encouraging aspects from the evening.
"I thought we used the ball well," he said, "the idea was to get the ball into Séamie (Harnedy) and I thought he was excellent.
"Fellas moved off him very well and used patterns of play that we wanted them to use. That's what we've been working on."
Scorers - Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-12 (10fs), C Fennelly 1-2, W Walsh 0-3, L Ryan 0-2, D Cody, R Hogan, J Power 0-1 each. Cork: S Harnedy 1-3, P Horgan (4fs, 1 '65'), C Lehane (1f) 0-6 each, B Cooper 1-0, C Murphy 0-2, D Kearney, P Haughney, L O'Farrell, B Lawton, L McLoughlin 0-1 each.
KILKENNY - R Reid 7; P Murphy 7, J Holden 6, S Prendergast 6; P Walsh 6, K Joyce 6, C Buckley 7; C Fogarty 6, D Cody 8; C Martin 5, C Fennelly 7, TJ Reid 8; R Hogan 6, K Kelly 5, W Walsh 8. Subs: L Ryan 8 for Fogarty (2, injured), J Maher 6 for Martin (h-t), J Power 6 for Kelly (51).
CORK - P Collins 7; D Cahalane 7, S McDonnell 6, K Burke 6; C Murphy 8, C Joyce 7, L McLoughlin 8; P Haughney 8, J Cronin; B Cooper 6, C Lehane 8, B Lawton 7; L O'Farrell 8, S Harnedy 9, P Horgan 6. Subs: D Kearney 7 for Cronin (48), S Moylan 6 for Haughney (58), P O'Sullivan 6 for Horgan (66), W Egan 6 for Murphy (69).
Ref - F Horgan (Tipperary).