Kilkenny 2-23 Cork 2-22

Kilkenny denied Cork their first win of the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 season in the most dramatic of circumstances at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday night.

The Rebels dominated the first half of this game and after a strong Kilkenny fight-back they got themselves back in front.

The Cats then struck two late goals to move ahead again, only for Cork to level the game deep into stoppage time.

But there was more drama to follow as John Power pounced on a loose clearance from Rebel goalkeeper Patrick Collins and fired over a last-gasp winner.

Cork are now locked into a relegation play-off to hold on to their top flight status while Kilkenny are a step closer to the play-offs.

In the first half, the hosts had a seven-point lead at one stage and responded to going behind early in the second half by striking for a second goal and pushing five ahead again.

With six minutes of normal time remaining, Kieran Kingston’s side – playing in blue jerseys as part of a 1916 commemoration, with Cork having had that colour in the early in the last century – were 2-20 to 0-20 ahead.

Before a crowd of 8,015, the All-Ireland champions showed just why they are so hard-beaten.

There could be no denying that Brian Cody’s side were second-best in the first half as Cork responded well to the disappointing display against Dublin in Croke Park the previous week. 

With Séamus Harnedy excellent as the focal point in attack, Cork were full of invention, typified by the energy of wing-backs Cormac Murphy and Lorcán McLoughlin.

When Harnedy won a Brian Lawton clearance and fired smartly to the net on 13 minutes, the hosts were 1-5 to 0-3 in front and they weren’t flattered when Murphy and Patrick Horgan added points to ease them further clear.

Having been on the back foot, though, Kilkenny upped their game as half-time approached and came to within a goal thanks to points from Reid and Walter Walsh.

While Horgan’s free put Cork 1-11 to 0-10 in front at the break, Kilkenny’s good start to the second half suggested that they were ready to assert themselves.

They were ahead within 10 minutes, but Cork stood up to the challenge and Bill Cooper’s goal, after Harnedy had again done brilliantly, made it 2-14 to 0-17 before points from Luke O’Farrell and Harnedy.

That appeared to have been the decisive period of the game, but Kilkenny continued to press and were ultimately rewarded.

TJ Reid’s free, his twelfth point, didn’t appear to have much significance at the time, but when Colin Fennelly bustled through for a goal, it was game on again.

Lester Ryan, introduced as a second-minute substitute for the inured Conor Fogarty, got his third point to leave just the minimum in it and then Reid stole in for a second Cats goal, seemingly deciding the winning of the game.

But Cork had been full of character all night and they displayed it again when they levelled through two Conor Lehane points.

A draw would have felt like an unfair result to Cork, but they didn’t even secure that as goalkeeper Collins sent a clearance straight into the hand of Cats subs Power, who returned the ball with interest for what proved to be the winner.

Kilkenny: R Reid; P Murphy, J Holden, S Prendergast; P Walsh, K Joyce, C Buckley; C Fogarty, D Cody (0-01); C Martin, C Fennelly (1-02), TJ Reid (1-12, 0-10f); R Hogan (0-01), K Kelly, W Walsh (0-03).
Subs: L Ryan (0-03) for Fogarty (2), J Maher for Martin (half-time), J Power (0-1) for Kelly (51)

Cork: P Collins; D Cahalane, S McDonnell, K Burke; C Murphy (0-02), C Joyce, L McLoughlin (0-1); P Haughney (0-01), J Cronin; B Cooper (1-00), C Lehane (0-06, 0-01f)), B Lawton (0-01); L O’Farrell (0-1), S Harnedy (1-03), P Horgan (0-06, 0-04f, 0-01 65).
Subs: D Kearney (0-01) for Cronin (48), S Moylan for Haughney (0-1)  (58), P O’Sullivan for Horgan (65), W Egan for Murphy (69).

Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).