Cork: D. Og Cusack; S. O’Neill; S. McDonnell; B. Murphy; S. Og O hAilpin; E. Cadogan; W. Egan (0-2f); L. McLoughlin; D. Sweetnam (0-1; J. Gardiner); C. Lehane (0-1); P. Cronin (0-1); C. Naughton (0-2; N. McCarthy); J. Coughlan (0-1); P. O’Sullivan (1-1); P. Horgan (0-8; 0-6f).
Kilkenny: D. Herity; P. Murphy; N. Hickey; W. Phelan; K. Joyce; B. Hogan; JJ. Delaney; M. Fennelly; M. Rice (0-1); TJ. Reid (0-1; A. Fogarty); R. Power (1-11; 1-9f); R. Hogan (0-2).
Cork scored a surprise victory over a out of shape Kilkenny side today in sunny conditions in the Pairc. Kilkenny, short Tommy Walsh, Tennyson, Shefflin, Dalton and Aidan Fogarty largely threw the game away in the closing minutes hitting numerous bad wides whereas Cork were generally far more efficient up front. In reality the game was won for Cork largely due to poor Kilkenny discipline and shooting and the fact that Cork kept Kilkenny to two goal chances, one of which was the penalty. Most importantly, the result puts Cork in with a very strong chance of making the league semi-finals, an extra competitive game important to this young team’s development.
For Kilkenny, it was the second successive lax performance, and its clear the depth that was there a few year’s back isn’t. Both Ruth and Murphy were completely ineffective up front and subbed, although to be fair the former looked like he was being played out of position. Larkin didn’t look match fit and in reality it was Power who was the one constant up front throughout, showing typically brilliant movement to trouble both McDonnell and Cadogan. Hogan had a decent second half as well and scored a couple of classy points. In midfield, Rice played a huge amount of ball in the first half, his engine and movement ensuring Sweetnam was at least five yards of him whenever he got the ball. Surprisingly, Fennelly was completely ineffective beside him, and did little ‘noteworthy’ bar try and take Lehane out of the game in the first half with a shoulder to the chest. The performance of the backs should maybe worry Kilkenny fans most however – Delaney – taken off Lehane after twenty minutes – and Joyce looked slow, in fact the Kilkenny defence as a unit looked rather leggy and often struggled to deal with not just Lehane but also Coughlan and Horgan’s movement. Nonetheless, Hogan was excellent at center-back and got the better of Cronin in a physical battle. Regardless, considering the players Kilkenny have to come back, one would still fancy them for the AI big time – however against a fussy referee they are going to get penalised more then most, such is their full-body aggression in the tackle.
For Cork, it was surely our most encouraging performance and result of the league campaign to date. Defensively, we were excellent, and one can only assume the same back six will start come Tipp in the championship – McDonnell is growing into the full-back spot far quicker then expected, Brian Murphy is still the unsung hero of the side and Shane O’Neill is looking more and more like his old self. Sean Og put in what was close to a MOTM performance at half-back, playing a load of ball against the admittedly weak Ruth, Cadogan was solid-ish, dealing as about as well as can be expected with someone as good as Power while Egan won some brilliant ball in the air.
The midfield did ok – McLoughlin had little influence but he kept Fennelly as quiet as possible, while Rice gave Sweetnam the run around in the first half the 18 year old was again physical and poised on the ball. The half-forward line was ok – Cronin was competitive and has an extremely difficult assignment being on the receiving end of the majority of Donal Og’s puck-outs. He is far more assured in midfield but with Cian McCarthy and Bill Cooper’s long term absence and Niall McCarthy’s complete lack of match fitness he will probably be at 11 for the year. Lehane was excellent, tearing past Delaney three times in the first twenty minutes and doing pretty much the same thing to Murphy throughout the second half – his point was score of the game. The insides were good – Coughlan’s touch was affected by nerves but he is lively and will only improve, Horgan was excellent from dead ball situations while Paudie O’Sullivan worked hard and was full of lovely touches and clever movement. But in reality this was a win built on a miserly Cork defence, and a mixture of Kilkenny indiscipline and inaccuracy – Cork are improving, but how fast is still up for debate.
I missed the U-21 game because I’m a lazy bastard, but it ended in a draw despite Kilkenny having a much stronger team out, so a promising sign for the year.