Kilkenny supporters may have been concerned after recent defeats by Waterford and Clare but their mood was much different as they streamed out of Nowlan Park after watching their side overwhelm Cork in the second half.
t was level (0-12 each) after 39 minutes but Kilkenny shot six points over the next seven minutes to open up a lead that left Cork with far too much to retrieve.
Cork grew increasingly disjointed and any slim chance they had of mounting a recovery disappeared when sub, Cormac Murphy was sent off on a straight red card for a wild pull in the 61st minute.
Conor Lehane scored 0-10 (0-4 frees, 0-3 ‘65s’, 0-3 open play) for Cork but lacked the necessary support against a compact Kilkenny defence.
The home side had a much wider scoring spread, led by TJ Reid (0-7, 0-6 frees), Richie Hogan (0-5), Water Walsh (0-3) and Richie Leahy (0-3).
Kilkenny led by a point (0-11 to 0-10) at half-time, having held a three-point lead after goalkeeper, Eoin Murphy landed his second long range free in 31st minute.
Richie Hogan also scored his second point just before the break but three points from Conor Lehane (two‘65s’ and a free) left the minimum between the sides after lots of high-intensity action.
Cork came very close to scoring a goal in the 33rd minute but Paul Murphy and Eoin Murphy got in two great blocks, eventually conceding a ‘65’, which Lehane pointed.
The strong swirling wind made it very difficult for the players to pick accurate passes but Kilkenny, who started with a two-man full-forward line (TJ Reid and Walter Walsh) coped better, especially when it came to shooting.
They didn’t shoot the first of two wides until the 28th minute, by which stage they had scored nine points, whereas Cork missed the target six times in the opening 35 minutes.
They also suffered a setback in the 22nd minute when midfielder, Daniel Kearney, who had been playing very well was forced off with an injury.
Scorers: Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-7 (6f), R Hogan 0-5, W Walsh, R Leahy 0-3 each, E Murphy 0-2 (2f), C Buckley, C Martin 0-1 each.
Cork: C Lehane 0-10 (4f, 3 ‘65s), A Cadogan 0-2, S Harnedy, B Cooper, D Brosnan 0-1 each.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, P Walsh, C O’Shea; C Fogarty, J Cleere, K Joyce; C Buckley, P Deegan; C Fennelly, R Hogan, R Leahy; W Walsh,TJ Reid, C Martin.
Subs: S Prendergast for Joyce (ht), J Maher for Leahy (63).
Cork: A Nash; K Burke, D Cahalane, C Spillane;C Joyce, M Ellis, M Coleman; B Cooper, D Kearney; D Brosnan, C Lehane, S Kingston; A Cadogan, S Harnedy, L Meade.
Subs: C Murphy for Kearney (22), P Horgan for Kingston ( 57), S McDonnell for Burke (57), L O’Farrell for Meade (62).
Ref - J McGrath (Westmeath)