Darragh Fitzgibbon, Cork, and Huw Lawlor, Kilkenny, during Saturday's Allianz Hurling League semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Darragh Fitzgibbon, Cork, and Huw Lawlor, Kilkenny, during Saturday's Allianz Hurling League semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Allianz HL SF: Cork advance to decider


Allianz Hurling League semi-final

Cork 1-27 Kilkenny 2-20

Cork finished well at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night to stay on course for a first Allianz HL title since 1998.

Despite trailing by six points in the early stages of the first half, Cork managed to win by four, with a 65th-minute goal by Darragh Fitzgibbon putting them into a lead that would not be lost. Prior to that, Conor Lehane had put Cork ahead for the first time only for Kilkenny to respond with scores from sub John Donnelly and Alan Murphy, making it 2-18 to 0-23, but Fitzgibbon’s goal – set up by subs Conor Cahalane and Jack O’Connor – proved to be decisive.

It was a hard-earned victory, with Cork having fallen 1-4 to 0-1 behind inside the sixth minute, with Martin Keoghan scoring a goal form Kilkenny after good work from Mikey Carey and Pádraig Walsh.

With Cork labouring, Kilkenny were able to keep their noses in front, Eoin Cody and Billy Ryan on target for them, but Cork drew level at 0-9 to 1-6 after 22 minutes. The hosts couldn’t move ahead though and Murphy and David Blanchfield had points as Kilkenny moved back in front. When Alan Murphy claimed a puckout in the 30th minute and linked with Carey, it allowed Keoghan to find the net again for a 2-9 to 0-11 advantage.

At half-time, it was 2-12 to 0-14 for the visitors and Alan Murphy was on target again in the first minute of the second half, but Cork scored five of the next six points, with Conor Lehane coming to the fore while Alan Connolly, one of their brightest first-half performers, notched his fourth point.

Sub Tim O’Mahony tied at 0-20 to 2-14 but once more Kilkenny responded through Alan Murphy and Cody. However, after two Patrick Horgan points, Cork – for whom teenage wing-back Ciarán Joyce was outstanding – finally managed to take the lead through a 63rd-minute free from Lehane, on dead-ball duty following O’Connor’s replacement of Horgan.

Though Kilkenny did reply with those scores from Donnelly and Murphy, Cork had the momentum and they seized it as Fitzgibbon took O’Connor’s lay-off on the run and got his shot past Eoin Murphy. Lehane (two) and Fitzgibbon added points to open up a five-point advantage and Cork were not going to be denied from there.

Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-9 (0-8 frees), Conor Lehane 0-6 (0-3 frees), Darragh Fitzgibbon 1-3, Alan Connolly 0-4, Shane Kingston, Shane Barrett, Robbie O’Flynn, Tim O’Mahony, Ciarán Joyce 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kilkenny: Martin Keoghan 2-0, Alan Murphy 0-6 (0-4 frees), Eoin Cody, Billy Ryan 0-4 each, Pádraig Walsh 0-2, David Blanchfield, Cian Kenny, Cillian Buckley, John Donnelly 0-1 each.

CORK: Patrick Collins; Niall O’Leary, Dáire O’Leary, Damien Cahalane; Robert Downey, Mark Coleman, Ciarán Joyce; Darragh Fitzgibbon, Ger Millerick; Robbie O’Flynn, Shane Barrett, Conor Lehane; Alan Connolly, Patrick Horgan, Shane Kingston.

Subs: Tim O’Mahony for Dáire O’Leary (half-time), Séamus Harnedy for Barrett (47), Conor Cahalane for Kingston (52), Jack O’Connor for Horgan (59), Sam Quirke for Millerick (69).

KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Conor Delaney; Mikey Carey, Paddy Deegan, David Blanchfield; Cian Kenny, Cillian Buckley; Walter Walsh, Pádraig Walsh, Eoin Cody; Billy Ryan, Martin Keoghan, Alan Murphy.

Subs: James Maher for Kenny (46), John Donnelly for Keoghan (61), Richie Reid for Buckley (64).

Referee: Seán Stack (Dublin).