Sunday 22 September 2019

Rebels secure final rematch with the Premier

All Ireland Under 20 Hurling Semi Final: Cork 1-16 Kilkenny 0-13

Cork player Ryan Walsh
Cork player Ryan Walsh

Diarmuid Sheehan

Cork made it a day to remember by taking a clean sweep in Portlaoise last Saturday afternoon.

Before the footballers secured the All Ireland football title the county's Under 20 hurlers took on Kilkenny for a place on that competition's show piece game and in less than ideal conditions for hurling the Rebels saw off the old enemy by six points.

The young Rebels bounced back from what was a disappointing Munster Final loss to Tipperary with a very disciplined, hard working and skilful display that kept a very good Kilkenny side at bay.

Cork played this game their way and had Kilkenny chasing for the majority, but when the record books are read in years to come the tally of 1-10 from Midleton's Tommy O'Connell will likely be determined as the difference on the day.

Cork also had terrific shifts from keeper Ger Collins, Kildorrery's James Keating (full back) and Kanturk's Ryan Walsh in the middle third of the field.

Robert Downey and Shane O'Regan also did well but it was the display given by O'Connell, who was accurate from play and placed balls that kept Cork moving in the right direction, particularly as the game went tight in the second period.

Cork got off the mark inside one minute with a long-range point from O'Connell with Brian Turnbull adding a second free on four minutes.

It was all Cork in the opening exchanges and although the young Rebels had the bulk of the attacking possession they were finding either side of the posts as frequently as they raised the white flag.

Kilkenny weren't faring any better as they failed to score until the 13th minute. Cork's full forward O'Regan added to the Cats' pain on six minutes with his first point and Cork looked like the side that had settled best.

Just before the 10th minute Cork had their first real chance of a goal after a brilliant run from O'Connell set up O'Regan, but the number 14's shot was saved well by the diving Dean Mason between the Kilkenny sticks - O'Connell made the most of the 65 and Cork led by four.

Another brace of wides from Kilkenny had the groans going however a huge score from Evan Cody finally got Kilkenny on the board. A brace of frees from Aaron Brennan had Kilkenny back to within one by the quarter hour mark.

Cork responded to this mini comeback with what turned out to be the game's only goal when O'Connell burst in from the right to finish although Mason will feel he could have done better.

The sides traded the next four points as they game settled down to a genuine contest before a Kilkenny brace had the gap again down to one as the sides headed for the tunnel. Kilkenny were looking for a positive restart and got it thanks to the skills of Conor Heary.

Kilkenny took the lead soon after but Cork, and in particular O'Connell, responded superbly to lift the siege and push Cork back in front. O'Connell kept the scoreboard ticking over for the rebels and hit back almost immediately every time the men in black and amber came knocking.

Again, Kilkenny came back but again O'Connell responded pushing Cork out to a four-point lead by the 50thminute. A wonderful point from Cork's number eight Walsh put six between the sides with just six to go and Cork looked to be on their way to the showpiece game.

Kilkenny continued to press and had a goal chance late on but a wonderful save from Ger Collins kept the Leinster side at bay and Cork won out by six points in a hugely impressive display.

CORK: Ger Collins (Ballinhassig); Conor O'Callaghan (Dromtarrife), James Keating (Kildorrery), Eoin Roche (Bride Rovers); Sean O'Leary Hayes (Midleton), Ger Millerick (Fr O'Neill's), Robert Downey (Glen Rovers); Daire Connery (Na Piarsaigh), Ryan Walsh (Kanturk) 0-2; Tommy O'Connell (Midleton) 1-10 (6f, 2 65s), Brian Roche (Bride Rovers), Sean Twomey (Courcey Rovers); Brian Turnbull (Douglas) 0-2f, Shane O'Regan (Watergrasshill) 0-1, Padraig Power (Blarney) Subs: Simon Kennefick (Glen Rovers) 0-1 for D Connery (42), Evan Sheehan (Na Piarsaigh) for P Power (45), Barry Murphy (Castlelyons) for S O'Regan (61), Craig Hanifin (Na Piarsaigh) for S Twomey (63), Jamie Copps (Ballyhea) for C O'Callaghan (66)

KILKENNY: Dean Mason; James Brennan, Conor Flynn, Mikey Butler ;David Blanchfield, Michael Carey, Conor Heary 0-1; Conor Murphy, Evan Shefflin 0-1; Adrian Mullen, Aaron Brennan 0-1, Eoin O'Shea; Seán Ryan, Niall Brassil 0-4 (2f), Eoin Cody 0-6 (5f) Subs: Stephen Donnelly for A Brennan (ht), Ciaran Brennan for S Ryan (41), Jordan Molloy for C Murphy (45)

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)