Richie Hogan on fire as Cats start "transition period" with a win
Kilkenny 1-22 Cork 2-17
Brian Cody insisted this week that his side were in transition but they were still good enough to get their season off to a winning start in Cork - but only after a breathless finale in Pairc Ui Rinn.
The Cats looked to be in control for much of the second period but it was far from plain sailing as Cork rallied hard at the end.
A tremendous Luke O’Farrell goal, which cut a lead that had once stood at eight points to just three, ensured a frenetic finish.
Anthony Nash also pulled off a superb save in this period and it looked as if the tide was turning Cork’s way.
Kilkenny seemed to have rode out the storm with points from Richie Hogan and Mark Kelly but Cork rallied again and Conor Lehane snaffled the ball to the net after Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy fumbled a dropping delivery.
That brought the lead back to just two points as the clock ticked well into injury time and Cork almost pulled off a great smash and grab but O’Farrell’s goal bound effort went wide and Cody’s men hung on.
If not up to the same standard of the closing stages, the first half was still a lively affair with Cork slightly edging the opening exchanges as they opened up a 0-3 to 0-2 lead after eight minutes.
However, the Cats struck a crucial blow two minutes later. Walter Walsh’s power saw him shrug off the tackle of Cork’s Conor O’Sullivan and make room for a shot on goal.
Anthony Nash did well to stop the effort but Jonjo Farrell was on hand to scoop the ball home from a couple of inches.
Cork steadied the ship with another pointed free from Pat Horgan but Kilkenny might have had another goal just minutes later.
This time Farrell was caught high in the area and referee James Owens had no hesitation in awarding the penalty.
Current Hurler of the Year Hogan saw his well struck effort saved but he maintained his composure to point the resultant 65 and put the Cats into a three point lead.
The Rebels stuck to their task though with Alan Cadogan squeezing two points out of the Kilkenny and Daniel Kearney also getting on the scoresheet.
Conor Lehane managed the score of the half as his magical touch turned Paul Murphy to lift the home crowd before an 80m free from Horgan drew them level.
However, the Cats hit three points to Cork’s one in the closing stages of the half to take a 1-11 to 0-12 lead in at the break.
But it all went pear shaped for Cork from there in front of 8,773 people in the Cork city venue.
They were outscored by 0-6 to 0-1 in the 15 minutes after the restart as Kilkenny set about building what would prove to be a match winning cushion.
Kilkenny stretched the lead to eight points and looked to be cruising before Cork’s late rally.
However, the Rebels' third quarter collapse left them with too much to do in a pulsating finish.
SCORERS: Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (8f), C Lehane 1-2, L O’Farrell 1-0, A Cadogan 0-2, S Harnedy, D Kearney, P O’Sullivan, B Cooper 0-1.
Kilkenny: R Hogan 0-11 (7f, 1 ‘65), M Kelly 0-4, JJ Farrell 1-0, W Walsh 0-3, L Ryan, M Ruth, K Joyce, P Walsh 0-1 each.
Cork: A Nash; D Cahalane, C Joyce, C O’Sullivan; A Walsh, M Ellis, C Murphy; D Kearney, P Cronin; S Harnedy, B Cooper, C Lehane; A Cadogan, P O’Sullivan, P Horgan SUBS: L McLoughlin for Cronin (46), L O’Farrell for O’Sullivan, C McCarthy for Cooper (both 49), S O’Neill for Cahalane (58), S Moylan for Cadogan (66).
Kilkenny: E Murphy; T Keogh, P Murphy, J Tyrrell; B Kennedy, K Joyce, C Buckley; C Fogarty, L Ryan; P Walsh, W Walsh, M Ruth; M Kelly, JJ Farrell, R Hogan SUBS: G Brennan for Fogarty (16).
Ref: J Owens (Wexford)