O’connor strikes late for Cork footballers
Cork Kilkenny 1-17 1-15
CORK inflicted a first defeat of the season on All-ireland champions Kilkenny at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday to give themselves a real chance of reaching the league semi-finals.
The home supporters in the 7,864 crowd, basking in the sunshine, saw Cork overwhelm their opponents in a wind-assisted second half, with Kilkenny restricted to just a point from play.
And to add to Kilkenny’s woes star forward Richie Power was dismissed on a straight red card for a wild pull on outstanding Cork centre back Eoin Cadogan in the closing minute.
It means Kilkenny’s top scorer with 1-11 misses the final game against Galway on Sunday, when Cork travel to Tipperary, and all four counties are in the shake up for the three places on offer.
The key to Cork’s victory was restricting Kilkenny to just a twopoint lead at the break, 1-10 to 1-8, and managing to maintain their drive on the resumption, something they’d been unable to achieve recently.
It was this factor, which pleased coach Jimmy Barry-murphy most: “It was the one thing which we stressed to the players at halftime, especially as we blew an eight-point lead the previous week against Galway.
“In fairness, the players were magnificent in keeping up the intensity levels in the second half and I though the defence, in particular, was excellent,” he said.
A number of Cork’s promising youngsters came of age in a very competitive encounter, most notably full back Stephen Mcdonnell, William Egan at left half- back, Darren Sweetnam, the Bandon Grammar School Leaving Cert student, at midfield, and 19-year-old Conor Lehane at right half forward.
Sweetnam’s introduction in his first game against Kilkenny was to be flattened by Michael Fennelly after only 15 seconds, a free which Patrick Horgan pointed from the sideline to set the tone.
Lehane’s exquisite first touch and electrifying pace had the crowd buzzing with excitement and JJ Delaney’s troubles resulted in a positional switch with cornerback Paul Murphy after 24 minutes.
At that stage Cork were keeping tabs with Kilkenny, the sides tied at 0-7 apiece before the ante was upped again in a dramatic closing spell. Power’s move to full forward from the wing brought an instant reward for the visitors.
His brilliant turn on the halfhour left Mcdonnell trailing and it needed a desperate lunge from Brian Murphy to end his run, but only at the expense of a penalty, which Power dispatched to the net with impressive power.
Kilkenny’s 1-8 to 0-7 lead, however, didn’t last long as Cork responded in kind. Two minutes later Lorcan Mcloughlin drove in a free towards the danger zone, where Paudie O’sullivan was lurking to first-time the breaking ball past David Herrity.
“That goal was a massive boost to our confidence, cancelling out Kilkenny’s goal almost immediately and it give our fellows a lot of heart for the second half,” BarryMurphy added.
Fittingly, Lehane began Cork’s second-half revival, making a magnificent high catch from a Donal Óg Cusack clearance and pointing spectacularly, though Kilkenny still led 1-13 to 1-10 after 42 minutes.
Cork, however, gained a stranglehold on proceedings from there to the finish, limiting Kilkenny to