Cork finish with a flourish to beat Kilkenny in Nowlan Park
Cork 2-15 Kilkenny 1-16
Cork produced two minutes of brilliance near the finish to snatch 1-2 without reply an claim an unlikely victory over Kilkenny in this Division 1A relegation battle in the National Hurling League in Nowlan Park.
Kilkenny, with the wind at their backs, looked good when points from James Maher and Richie Hogan shot them 1-15 to 1-12 clear as the 67th minute was passed.
Cork already had 19 wides registered, but suddenly everything clicked for them. Conor Lehane tapped over a close-in free. Mark Coleman added another from play before sub Jamie Coughlin made the best of a loose ball near the edge of the home square to tap it into the net.
Suddenly Cork were 2-14 to 1-15 ahead. In the lead up there as an exchange of points between Richie Hogan and Lehane, but Cork were home and into Group A of next year's revised league along with All-Ireland champions Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Galway and Westmeath.
Kilkenny led by double scores, 1-9 to 0-6, when Richie Hogan fired over an early second-half point. However, the opposition slowly crept back into the match.
Cork drew level at 1-11 each on the hour mark when James O'Connor rifled home a goal.
Although they fell behind again, they regrouped to come up with a good winning effort.
Cork opened backed by the wind but they missed an ocean of chances, hitting half-time with 11 wides marked against them.
The only time the visitors led was when Shane Kingston clipped over the opening point after 80 seconds. When Kilkenny levelled through Billy Ryan and then took the lead with an Alan Murphy point from a free in the fifth minute, they made the best of virtually every chance that came their way.
The Cats reached the break with a lead of 1-8 to 0-6. The goal arrived via a penalty in the 33rd minute following a foul on James Maher as he charged towards the Cork goal. Alan Murphy blasted the penalty to the net to the left of goalie Anthony Nash.
The fact that Kilkenny were that much ahead was due to Cork's poor shooting plus two vital and very good saves by their keeper, Eoin Murphy, who was in to top form.
The second half opened in promising fashion for Kilkenny, but it was Cork who were singing at the finish of what was a far from sizzling encounter.
Scorers: C Lehane 0-8 (6f, 165); J O'Connor, J Coughlan 1-0 each; S Kingston 0-3; L Meade 0-2; M Coleman, C Murphy 0-1 each. Kilkenny - A Murphy 1-4 (goal pen, 2f, 165), R Hogan 0-5 (3f); N Brassil 0-3; R Leahy 0-2; J Maher, B Ryan 0-1 each.
CORK - A Nash; S O'Donoghue, D Cahalane, D Browne; R Downey, T O'Mahony, M Coleman; G Millerick, B Cooper; C Murphy, R O'Flynn, L Meade; C Lehane, A Walsh, S Kingston. Subs - J O'Connor for A Walsh 45th min; D Fitzgibbon for C Murphy 45th min; J Coughlan for Kingston 68th min.
KILKENNY - E Murphy; M Cody, P Deegan, C Wallace; E Morrissey, C O'Shea, T Walsh; J Maher, C Browne; P Lyng, A Murphy, R Leahy; B Ryan, R Hogan, N Brassil. Subs - A Nolan for C O'Shea ht; G Malone for P. Lyng ht; J Donnelly for A Murphy 52nd min; M Keoghan for Leahy 62nd min
REF - J Owens (Wexford).