Cork through to BGE All-Ireland U-20 Hurling Final
Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland U-20 hurling championship semi-final
CORK 1-16 KILKENNY 0-13
By Paul Keane at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise
Cork are through to the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland U-20 hurling final and may yet get the opportunity to settle a couple of old scores on that occasion.
Tommy O'Connell's 1-10 haul in Portlaoise was decisive as Denis Ring's side returned to the decider having lost last year's final at the U-21 grade.
Aside from merely wanting to make up for the 2018 final defeat to Tipperary, Cork may yet get to play old foes Tipp themselves who meet Wexford tomorrow in the second semi-final.
A Tipp-Cork final on August 24 would also be a rematch of the recent Munster final which the Premier County won with a last gasp Jake Morris goal.
Cork put the foot down and cruised clear of Kilkenny in the final quarter at O'Moore Park having been level on three occasions between the 31st and 40th minutes.
They were tied at 1-8 to 0-11 with 20 minutes to go but Cork powered to victory from there, outscoring DJ Carey's Kilkenny by 0-8 to 0-2 to move within an hour of their first title since 1998.
Cork gave the impression straight away of a team keen to make a point after being denied the Munster in agonising circumstances by an injury-time Tipperary goal
They surged four points clear and held Leinster champions Kilkenny scoreless until the 13th minute Eoin Cody pointed.
O'Connell scored two of those early Cork points and they could have led by more with wild shooting on a couple of occasions costing them.
The young Rebels lined out with Robert Downey in defence, the Glen Rovers man starting a series of games for the Cork seniors in the Munster championship.
Adrian Mullen was Kilkenny's senior star and played in both the centre and full-forward positions in the opening half.
He struggled to get into the game though and was superbly man marked by Ger Millerick who tracked the Ballyhale Shamrocks man throughout.
Kilkenny shot seven first-half wides and were hampered by poor free-taking with four of those seven misses coming from placed balls.
Niall Brassil converted three first-half frees for Kilkenny but handed over the duties to Cody late in the half and he converted one.
Cork led 1-6 to 0-8 at the interval with O'Connell's 17th minute goal proving the difference.
The Midleton man did well to burst through the centre but Kilkenny goalkeeper Dean Mason will be frustrated not to have stopped the ball crossing the line after getting a heavy hurl to it.
Kilkenny's best period came in the periods just before and after the interval when they scored five points in total without reply.
It helped them to draw level with Cork on a number of occasions in the third quarter and they led briefly at 0-10 to 1-6.
But they were blown away by the ferocity of Cork's play in the last 20 minutes or so with O'Connell terrific and midfielder Ryan Walsh also weighing in with two excellent scores.
Cork scorers: Tommy O'Connell 1-10 (0-6f, 0-2 65), Brian Turnbull 0-2 (0-2f), Ryan Walsh 0-2, Shane O'Regan 0-1, Simon Kennefick 0-1.
Kilkenny scorers: Eoin Cody 0-6 (0-5f), Niall Brassil 0-4 (0-2f), Evan Shefflin 0-1, Aaron Brennan 0-1, Conor Heary 0-1.
CORK: Ger Collins; Conor O'Callaghan, James Keating, Eoin Roche; Sean O'Leary Hayes, Ger Millerick, Robert Downey; Ryan Walsh, Daire Connery; Tommy O'Connell, Brian Roche, Sean Twomey; Brian Turnbull, Shane O'Regan, Padraig Power. Subs: Simon Kennefick for Connery (42), Evan Sheehan for Power (45), Barry Murphy for O'Regan (61), Craig Hanifin for Twomey (64), Jamie Copps for O'Callaghan (66).
KILKENNY: Dean Mason; James Brennan, Conor Flynn, Mikey Butler; David Blanchfield, Michael Carey, Conor Heary; Conor Murphy, Evan Shefflin; Eoin O'Shea, Adrian Mullen, Aaron Brennan; Sean Ryan, Niall Brassil, Eoin Cody. Subs: Stephen Donnelly for Brennan (h/t), Ciaran Brennan for Ryan (41), Jordan Molloy for Murphy (45).
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).