McCormack hails team effort as Cats retain title
Kilkenny 2-23 Cork 2-18, All-Ireland IHC Final
Kilkenny manager Anthony McCormack acknowledged that yesterday's All-Ireland Intermediate final success over Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh may not have been the most strenuous title ever claimed, but he was still happy to take it.
The Cats beat Wexford to claim the Leinster crown and an impressive second-half scoring run saw off Cork.
McCormack accepted that the competition may need refining.
"God knows what it'll be, it's probably not sustainable in its current form," he said.
"It's an awful pity because it's a great showcase for guys. We've lads just out of minor, lads at the end of their careers and lads in between.
"It's a great opportunity for junior and intermediate clubs. We'll take it, any All-Ireland is sweet. This one was probably not as competitive, but it still has to be won."
Leading by 0-11 to 0-10 at half-time, Kilkenny conceded a goal to Cork's Jerry O'Neill straight after the resumption and they were 1-15 to 0-15 behind with 16 minutes of normal time remaining.
They were level as Paul Holden, Martin Keoghan and Robbie Donnelly all pointed and, when Cork goalkeeper Patrick Collins tripped Darragh Brennan after saving from Martin Power, Donnelly drilled the penalty home.
A long-range free from the same player - he finished with 1-11 - opened up the biggest lead of the game and the outcome was more or less decided when sub Tom Phelan pulled a loose ball home after Donnelly's free broke.
"It's brilliant, the lads put in a great performance," McCormack said. "We just asked them to be able to look at each other in the eyes when they came off the field and say that they gave everything and that's what they did.
"The 15 lads on the field don't win a match, it's everyone who puts in the collective training sessions. Only 24 lads can be named on a panel, but there are 32 guys there at training and every one of them played a part."
The Rebels led for much of the first-half and looked to have opened up some daylight when Seán Hayes' fourth point put them 0-9 to 0-7 in front in the 26th minute. Kilkenny responded well as Robbie Donnelly struck twice to tie the game.
William Leahy's booming effort after Patrick Collins' puck-out made it 0-10 to 0-9, but Kilkenny led at the break as Paul Holden and then Donnelly were on target.
O'Neill's goal, set up by Leahy and sub Rob O'Shea, lifted Cork and Hayes, O'Shea and Leahy pointed after Donnelly had replied with two frees.
Kilkenny found their rhythm again, though, and Phelan's goal put them firmly in control. O'Shea's free ended Cork's drought, but Kilkenny replied through Donnelly and impressive pair Edmond Delaney and Keoghan to move nine clear.
Cork did pull a goal back through O'Shea, but Kilkenny were not going to allow any more, ensuring they retained the title.
Scorers - Kilkenny: R Donnelly 1-11 (1 penalty, 9f), E Delaney 0-4, M Keoghan, P Holden 0-3 each, T Phelan 1-0, M Power, J Cahill 0-1 each.
Cork: S Hayes 0-6 (5f, 1 sideline), R O'Shea 1-2 (1f), W Leahy 0-4, J O'Neill 1-1, D Drake, M Collins 0-2 each, D O'Flynn 0-1.
Kilkenny: D Aylward; D Prendergast, G Teehan, N Doherty; B Whelan, C Fleming, J Cahill; JP Treacy, M Keoghan; P Holden, D Brennan, E Delaney; S Carey, M Power, R Donnelly. Subs: T Phelan for Fleming (half-time), L Hickey for Carey (40), N Walsh for Hickey (42-44, blood), C Prendiville for Keoghan, J Power for Delaney, D Walsh for Cahill (all 60).
Cork: P Collins; B O'Sullivan, S O'Donovan, S Hegarty; K Morrison, D O'Donovan, K Kavanagh; D O'Flynn, M Collins; D Casey, N Kelly, J O'Neill; S Hayes, W Leahy, D Drake. Subs: T Lawrence for Morrison, R O'Shea for Casey (both half-time), J Cooper for D O'Flynn (44), M Kennefick for Hayes (52), N McNamara for O'Neill (57).
Ref - C Cunning (Antrim).