/ GAA

Kilkenny 1-16 Cork 1-13

Updated: Sunday, 06 Sep 2009 21:14

Kilkenny's Tommy Walsh breaks away from the attention of Cork's Niall McCarthy
Kilkenny's Tommy Walsh breaks away from the attention of Cork's Niall McCarthy

Kilkenny turned in an outstanding display to deny Cork an All-Ireland SHC treble at Croke Park as they won this afternoon's high octane final by 1-16 to 1-13.

82,275 spectators watched the charged-up Cats claimed a treble of their own as they added the Liam McCarthy Cup to their League and Leinster titles.

In a bruising encounter, the teams were level five times before Diarmuid O'Sullivan dropped a high ball into Aidan Fogarty's path in the 29th-minute and he rocketed a shot to the Cork net.

Corner forward Fogarty, who struck 1-03, had his best day in a Kilkenny jersey, as did James 'Cha Fitzpatrick who cut the Cork midfield to ribbons.

Kilkenny led 1-08 to 0-08 at the break and while Ben O'Connor's 67th-minute goal, set up by the bulldozing Niall McCarthy, jangled nerves, Brian Cody's men brilliantly held on for the county's 29th title since 1904.

For the past three weeks, Cody, who had Kilkenny in an All-Ireland final for the sixth time in his eight years in charge, was rubbishing talk of his side's revenge mission – the desire to spoil Cork's treble bid, just as the Rebels had done to them in 2004.

Whatever the James Stephens clubman says, it was certainly a determining factor for his charges. Kilkenny were easily the hungrier side, steeled by the likes of James Ryall, Tommy Walsh, Fitzpatrick and Derek Lyng, and their attacking sextet more than held its own – five of the starting forwards scored from play.

Cork, on the other hand, were as economical as ever – hitting their first wide after all of 29 minutes – but with their puck-outs being foiled, their midfield curtailed and their attackers notching only five points from play, with three from top scorer Ben O'Connor, John Allen's side were always up against it.

Kilkenny had the purpose and will to win the individual battles that condemned Cork to their first Championship defeat since their 2004 Munster final loss to Waterford. Still, the Rebels' grip on their 13-game winning streak was a firm one for the first 25 minutes.

Kilkenny did go 0-03 to 0-01 in front after seven minutes of frenetic action, with Henry Shefflin (two frees) and Fogarty on target, but Cork had slipped into the lead by the 11th-minute.

The final began with Shefflin reeling off the first of his 0-08 tally for the day after 37 seconds. The Ballyhale man swapped frees with Joe Deane before a soaring clearance from Kilkenny captain Jackie Tyrell ended with a first point for Fogarty.

Niall McCarthy then slipped his marker Ryall to reply and Ben O'Connor, accepting a weighted pass from Ronan Curran, levelled the game at 0-03 apiece.

Deane's only point from play followed, a classy drive from 45 yards out, to put Cork into the lead for the first and only time. Pressure on Donal Og Cusack's puck outs led to a quick brace for Shefflin, the first a free, and Martin Comerford showed a clean pair of heels to Sean Og O hAilpin to fire over off the post for a 0-06 to 0-04 lead.

With the tackling tough and chances at a premium, champions Cork were being harried into mistakes, yet they still had a 100% return on their shots at goal – Deane floated over a free and then teed up Jerry O’Connor to level the sides for a fourth time.

Key men Shefflin and Deane exchanged further points before O'Sullivan's uncharacteristic lapse allowed Emeralds starlet Fogarty nip in for his second goal of the championship – he grabbed a major against Galway in July’s quarter-final win.

The 24-year-old Fogarty, nicknamed 'Taggy', certainly came of age as he beat Cork skipper Pat Mulcahy to the breaking ball and drove past a stranded Cusack to the roof of the net.

Cork were not going to give up easily and a great show of persistence from Brian Corcoran along the left sideline carved out an inspiring score for Ben O'Connor. Nonetheless, another poor clearance from Cork's rearguard allowed Derek Lyng the time and space to send the Noresiders in at the interval with a one-goal buffer.

Allen needed to work his magic at half-time and Cork did up their efforts initially with John Gardiner pinging over an excellent point – the CIT student collected a high ball before side-stepping past Eoin Larkin and drilling over from the middle of the field.

Lesser teams would have been drawn in by the scoreboard then as Kilkenny's lead was down to two points, yet the Leinster kingpins stuck to their task and continued to choke the life out of Cork's attack with their defending in packs.

Fogarty snapped onto the ball to hit over his second point and Deane shot Cork's fourth wide before centre back Ryall's exquisite hook on the advancing Jerry O'Connor brought raucous cheers from the Black and Amber-clad hordes.

After a Deane free, the Cats then went four points clear for the first time, on 53 minutes, as the dynamic Fitzpatrick fended off O hAilpin to point and Richie Power, another of Cody's players who will be going for an All-Ireland double in next weekend's Under-21 final, showed great dexterity to slot over off his right for a 1-11 to 0-10 score line.

The calls for semi-final hero Cathal Naughton to be thrown on strengthened as Cork could do little to eat into the lead – Deane and Shefflin traded frees again before Ben O'Connor nabbed his third of the afternoon.

Naughton was then introduced, and Cork did look livelier with a plethora of high balls swung in towards Corcoran and company. Although, time and again, the Rebels were smothered out with either referee Barry Kelly forced into awarding throw balls, or the likes of John Tennyson and Tyrell clearing their lines.

Kilkenny's forwards drew inspiration from this and successive points from Eddie Brennan, who was clearly delighted to have raised a white flag after failing to score in the '04 decider, the on-fire Fogarty and Shefflin (free) raced them into a 1-15 to 0-12 lead.

Before today’s final, Cork had ironically averaged 1-17 in their previous four games and while Niall McCarthy did superbly to evade two defenders on the right flank and create a goal for O’Connor, who flashed his shot past James McGarry from an acute angle, the Rebels' reign was clearly at an end.

Wides from Shefflin and Gardiner – Cork’s eight and Kilkenny’s twelfth – brought the final to a tame finish. Kilkenny and Cody, who leapt for joy at the final whistle, did not mind. Liam was coming 'home' for the first time since 2003.

KILKENNY: J McGarry; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Tyrell (capt); J Ryall, J Tennyson, T Walsh; J Fitzpatrick (0-01), D Lyng (0-01); R Power (0-01), H Shefflin (0-08 (0-05f)), E Larkin; E Brennan (0-01), M Comerford (0-01), A Fogarty (1-03).

Subs used: W O’Dwyer for Larkin (46 mins), R Mulally for Fitzpatrick (69)

CORK: D Og Cusack; B Murphy, D O’Sullivan, P Mulcahy (capt); J Gardiner (0-01), R Curran, S Og O hAilpin; T Kenny, J O’Connor (0-01); T McCarthy, N McCarthy (0-01), B O’Connor (1-04 (0-01f)); N Ronan, B Corcoran, J Deane (0-06 (0-05f)).

Subs used: C O’Connor for O hAilpin (blood sub, 35+1-36 mins), K Murphy (Sarsfields) for Ronan (40), W Sherlock for Mulcahy (47), C Naughton for T McCarthy (59), C O’Connor for Murphy (65), C Cusack for Kenny (70)

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)

Yellow cards: Cork: O’Sullivan (23 mins), Mulcahy (44), Gardiner (68), N McCarthy (70+2)
Kilkenny: Comerford (23), Hickey (28)