Cleere secures Cats' revenge
KILKENNY avenged last year's All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling final defeat against Cork by scoring a seven-point victory against the Rebels at Semple Stadium last night.
Two-goal hero Peter Cleere netted in the first minute and in stoppage-time as the Cats regained the title they last won in 2008.
Kilkenny, who led by 1-6 to 0-8 at half-time, were much the better side in the second period and kick-started what could be a glorious week for the county, as their minors and seniors prepare for next Sunday's All-Ireland finals.
Cork, meanwhile, finished this Thurles encounter with 14 men after centre-back Kevin Hartnett was sent off for a second bookable offence with five minutes remaining.
Kilkenny got off to a dream start when burly full-forward Cleere goaled at the Killinan end with less than two minutes on the clock.
Cork goalkeeper Declan McCarthy had performed heroics to keep out shots from Michael Grace and Bill Beckett but was helpless as Cleere found a way past the Ballymartle netminder.
Nicky Cleere's pointed free and Richie Dollard's effort from play opened up a 1-2 to 0-0 lead from Kilkenny as Cork were slow to settle.
But the Rebels were level by the 16th minute -- 0-6 to 1-3 -- as they finally found their feet with the advantage of a breeze blowing.
Captain Mark Harrington should have netted for the Munster champions in the 18th minute but Kilkenny goalkeeper Liam Tierney did brilliantly to keep out the corner forward's shot from point-blank range.
Kilkenny went close to a second goal 10 minutes into the second half when Nicky Cleere's free was deflected onto his own upright by Cork full back Cian Fogarty.
Kilkenny went on to dominate after the sides were level five times and were five points clear before Colm Casey gave Cork hope with a 58th-minute goal. But Kilkenny wrapped up the win in the first minute of stoppage-time when Cleere kept his nerve and shot past Cork 'keeper McCarthy, who had been slow to advance.
Scorers -- Cork: E Conway 0-7f, C Casey 1-1, B Cooper 0-3, D O'Callaghan 0-2f. Kilkenny: P Cleere 2-0, B Beckett 0-4 (1f), A Healy 0-4 (3f), R Dollard & M Grace 0-2 each, N Cleere (f), K Mooney (f), B Lennon, N Doherty & N Walsh 0-1 each
Cork: D McCarthy; M Walsh, C Fogarty, B Coleman; T Healy, K Hartnett, M Ellis; D O'Callaghan, B Fitzgerald; B Corry, B Cooper, C Casey; M Harrington, E Conway, M O'Sullivan. Subs: S Corry for Fitzgerald (48), B Lawton for Conway (53), J Halbert for O'Sullivan (55)
Kilkenny: L Tierney; M Phelan, P Murphy, K Mooney; J Cotterell, R Cody, N Doherty; P Hartley, N Walsh; B Beckett, R Dollard, N Cleere; M Grace, P Cleere, A Healy. Subs: B Lennon for Cody (37), N Doherty for N Cleere (47)
Referee: A Kelly (Galway)