/ GAA

Kilkenny 1-23 Cork 0-17

Updated: Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008 10:04

Cork's Diarmuid O'Sullivan and Henry Shefflin of Kilkenny embrace at the end of the game
Cork's Diarmuid O'Sullivan and Henry Shefflin of Kilkenny embrace at the end of the game

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The Kilkenny dream of a three in-a-row continued apace at Croke Park this afternoon as they ran out convincing winners of a tense All-Ireland hurling semi-final against Cork.

The Leesiders gave it their best shot early on and the sides were level six times in the opening 21 minutes.

But when Eoin Larkin found himself in space for a Kilkenny goal after 29 minutes to have his side 1-09 to 0-06 in front, the champions were in control for the remainder.

It was a classic first half and while Cork came back for a brief time in the second half, the deadly accuracy of in-form Henry Shefflin made sure that the Cats remain only 70 minutes away from achieving their historic target.

Shefflin scored nine points, including four frees and a '65' to indicate that he is fully recovered from the serious knee injury he sustained in last year's final against Limerick.

A player who had not seen action since that game, Noel Hickey, also made a spectacular return.

The nearest Cork came to closing the gap in the second half was to make it a five-point margin.

But a great point by Martin Comerford showed that Kilkenny were ready to step up a further gear as they swept to a comprehensive win.

Brian Cody's men had a glut of scorers, with Eddie Brennan and Aidan Fogarty both contributing four points from play.

Cork relied all too much on the free-taking of Ben O'Connor who had all his eight points from placed balls and out of their other players, only Jerry O'Connor scored more than a point.

That Cork went for 16 minutes without a score in the second quarter told its own story and at the end they had no complaints.

Kilkenny opened the scoring thanks to a point by Aidan Fogarty after a tense opening five minutes.

John Gardiner made it all square and Ben O’Connor (free) edged the Munster side in front before Henry Shefflin levelled for the second time.

O'Connor and Shefflin exchanged points before Pat Horgan had Cork back in front, only for Shefflin to point a free to make it all square once again.

Jerry O'Connor and Shefflin had points as did Tom Kenny and Eoin Larkin to tie the game for the sixth times after 21 minutes.

But Kilkenny then cut loose and a goal and four points without reply had them 1-9 to 0-06 clear.

The goal was a superb effort by the on-fire Eoin Larkin, who scored 1-02 with Aidan Fogarty having three points from play early on.

These scores, together with four points by Shefflin had the defending champions 1-12 to 0-07 in front.

Ben O'Connor pointed a free just before the break, which was the first score for his side since the 19th-minute.

Kilkenny led by 1-12 to 0-07 at the interval and while Tom Kenny had a superb point for Cork to suggest a revival by his side, Shefflin had a similar effort for the black and amber.

Three Cork points in succession opened the prospect of another 'Houdini' style comeback from Gerald McCarthy's charges, but the effort was quelled as rampant Kilkenny put over points in a machine gun-like fashion and from all angles.

Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; J Fitzpatrick (0-01), D Lyng (0-01); E Brennan (0-04), M Comerford, E Larkin (1-02); R Power, H Shefflin (0-09, 0-05f, 0-01 '65'), A Fogarty (0-04).

Subs used: W O'Dwyer (0-01) for Comerford (53 mins), T J Reid (0-01) for Power (59), M Rice for Fitzpatrick (68).

Cork: D Óg Cusack; S O'Neill, D O’Sullivan, B Murphy; J Gardner (0-01), R Curran, S Óg Ó h’Ailpín; T Kenny (0-02), J O'Connor (0-02); B O’Connor (0-08, 0-08f), N McCarthy, P Cronin; C Naughton (0-01), J Deane, P Horgan (0-01).

Subs used: K Murphy for Deane (half-time), T McCarthy (0-01) for N McCarthy (42 mins), N Ronan (0-01) for Horgan (60), P O’Sullivan for Naughton (64).

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