Cork's Conor Lehane in action with David Blanchfield of Kilkenny. [Inpho/Ken Sutton]

Cats edge Cork at Uí Chaoimh

Kilkenny 0-21; Cork 1-17

Two traditional powerhouses of hurling will still be striving with difficulty to climb the steps of the Hogan Stand on All Ireland final day on the evidence of this performance on Saturday night in the newly-named Supervalu Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Sure, it turned into an exciting tit-for-tat fare down the home straight but it was an encounter where scoring wastage rather than taking was the order of the day.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

Cork’s long run on the outer echelons of the game looks like continuing as they were lethargic for most of the first half and fell eight points behind at this stage. A revival from there on in saw them have a chance of victory in this game but against the likes of Limerick they would have been dead and buried before the thought of any resurrection entered their heads.

It’s a tough road ahead for Pat Ryan and his backroom staff as they try to rekindle the halcyon days of the early noughties when both of these counties were preeminent and shared  the Liam MacCarthy glory.

Derek Lyng will be happy entering his second season that much of the old Kilkenny verve and thirst for work is still to the fore. With the prospect of TJ Reid returning to bolster an attack that was goal shy, and with the experience of having played in the last two All Ireland finals, albeit unsuccessfully, he at least has a map and knows the route to the big occasion.

The return of Michael Carey to midfield will add extra pace to his side but he is still light in three or four positions and will need to get these sorted out in the league or they will again come up short in high summer.

Ballyhale pair Eoin Cody and Adrian Mullen were the main architects of this victory as they totted up a combined score of 0-12 to win this Div 1A tie.

His team did what they liked for the first 20 minutes in building up a commanding lead but when Cork finally got their act together and started running at the Cats defense, suddenly the latter looked very vulnerable and Con O’Callaghan’s goal on the cusp of half-time would have been reprised at least three more times in the second-half by more clinical county units than were in Red on this occasion.

Cork had the deficit back to three and should have pulled well ahead but spurned goal chances on the changeover with even the venerable Pat Horgan missing a gilt-edged opportunity.

Cork actually took the lead through Conor Lehane but Kilkenny showed more mettle in the white heat of battle to come back and sneak the points by the minimum of margins.

That crucial winning score came in the 70th minute from John Donnelly. Even then the home side had three or four chances to level but failed on each occasion.

Afterwards Cork boss Ryan pointed to the poor start for the ultimate loss.

"We didn't come out of the traps well. We let Kilkenny into the game, missed a lot of chances in the second half, but we're very proud of our lads, the way that we came back. We were probably too slow on the ball at the start, lateral passing and stuff like that.

"We had a couple of chances and we probably should have won the game in the end,” he stated.

Of their opponents, he assessed: "In fairness to Kilkenny, they're big, strong physical fellas and they worked their socks off to put us under pressure. In fairness to our fellas, when we moved the ball and attacked the game, I thought we played a lot of good hurling in the second half. I suppose that's what the league is for, moving on and finding areas you can improve upon."

Kilkenny: E Murphy; M Butler, H Lawlor, T Walsh; D Blanchfield, D Corcoran, S Murphy (0-1); C Kenny (0-1), Ml Carey (0-1);  C Heary, J Donnelly (0-2), A Mullen (0-5): B Ryan, L Hogan, E Cody (0-7, 0-5f) Subs: M Keoghan for Ryan (HT); B Drennan (0-3, 0-2f) for Hogan (45), K Blanchfield for Carey (52), W Walsh for Heary (55), P McDonald for Kenny (63).

Cork: P Collins; E Downey, E Roche, S O'Donoghue; T O'Mahony (0-1), N O'Leary, R Downey: T O'Connell (0-1), C O'Callaghan (1-0);  L Meade, C Lehane (0-3), S Twomey; R O'Flynn (0-1), P Horgan (0-10f), SKingston Subs: G Mellerick for Downey (21); B Roche for Meade (HT), E Twomey for O’Callaghan (42), S Barrett (0-1) for O’Flynn (43), M Coleman for E Downey (48).

Ref: J Murphy (Limerick).

Wexford 0-20; Offaly 1-17

Offaly are the lightweights of this Div 1A league but they should have taken a huge scalp away in Wexford Park on Saturday afternoon when victory was there for the taking.

Instead, they allowed a 13-man Wexford team back into the game by scoring the last two points to share the spoils. Offaly had shown no respect to their hosts and it was all of a minute past the hour mark before Wexford managed to get their noses in front for the first time in the contest.

That came courtesy of a long-range  free from keeper Mark Fanning which edged his side 0-16 to 0-15 into the lead.

Offaly refused to bow the knee and Brian Duignan, son of Offaly chairman and former All Ireland winner Michael, came up trumps with a 65th minute goal to level matters after Wexford had forged three ahead.

The one-handed swing from eight yards lashed into the back of the net and almost immediately Wexford lost defender Charlie McGuckin  to a red card following Jack O’Connor’s earlier dismissal, reducing them to 13 for the final run in.

Offaly took advantage of their numerical strength to go two up through a Duignan free and another David King point but in fairness to Wexford they showed pluck to conjure up two late scores of their own through skipper Lee Chin and Seamus Casey, whose point was greeted by the biggest cheer of the day from the mostly home fans in the 3,664 attendance.

Wexford: M Fanning (0-1f); N Murphy, C Foley, S Reck; C McGuckin (0-1), D Reck, C Molloy (0-1); C Byrne-Dunbar (0-1), C Hearne; K Foley, R Lawlor (0-1), T Kinsella (0-1); C Byrne (0-2), L Chin (0-9, 0- 8f), S Casey (0-2) Subs: J O’Connor for Kinsella (45), J Byrne (0-1) for C Byrne (56), Cl Dunbar for Byrne-Dunbar (66), S Donohoe for Hearne (69), J O’Connor for Molloy (70).

Offaly: M Troy; C King (0-1), C Burke, S Bourke; J Sampson, C Kiely (0-2), B Conneely (0-1); D King (0-2), J Clancy; K Sampson (0-1), E Kelly, D Nally; A Screeney (0-1), B Duignan (1-7, 0-4f, 0-2 ‘65s), C Mitchell (0-1) Subs: D Bourke for Kiely, temp. (45-48), Bourke (0-1) for Clancy (52), M Watkins for Screeney (58), D Ravenhill for Kelly (66).

Ref: S Stack (Dublin).

Limerick 1-20; Westmeath 0-17

This is one of the rare occasions when a defeat can be dressed up as a moral victory. Westmeath are the minnows of this division but they pushed four-in-a-row All Ireland champs Limerick all the way to the finishing line before eventually bowing the knee at Cusack Park, Mullingar on Sunday.

The maroons were in line to actually cause a shock until  Donnacha Ó Dálaigh got through for the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute.

Despite the big presence roaring on the Treaty side in this away fixture, the Lake County were deserving of their level pegging platform at half-time albeit having had the wind at their backs.

Joe Fortune's interval pep-talk kept his charges at it on the changeover when most neutrals would have expected John Kiely’s men to pull away at that stage.

Yes, Limerick contributed to their own problems by shooting off target too often and Westmeath matched them stride for stride and were still level as we approached the hour mark.

Ultimately the difference emerged in a two minute window when Tom Morrissey shot over a free and David Reidy landed a monster before Ó Dálaigh pounced for the all-important goal.

So the points go to Limerick but the plaudits rest with the midlanders on a great if gallant showing.

Limerick: D McCarthy; B Nash, E McEvoy, A Costello; D Byrnes, D Reidy (0-2), D Langan; B Murphy, D O’Donovan (0-1); M Houlihan (0-4, 0-2f), C O’Neill (0-1), T Morrissey (0-2, 0-1f); D Ó Dalaigh (1-4), S Flanagan (0-1), G Mulcahy (0-1) Subs: C Boylan (0-1) for Houlihan (51), G Hegarty (0-1) for O’Neill (51), M Quinlan (0-1) for Langan (57), P O’Donovan (0-1) for Mulcahy (60), R Connolly for D O’Donovan (64).

Westmeath: N Conaty; D Egerton, J Bermingham, C Gaffney; J Gillen, K Regan, C Boyle; M Daly, S McGovern (0-1); O McCabe, D Clinton, D O’Reilly (0-1); N Mitchell (0-2), E Keyes, D Williams (0-10, 0-9f) Subs: T Doyle for Boyle (inj., 3), P Clarke for Daly (24), J Boyle (0-2) for McCabe (48), C Doyle (0-1) for Clinton (60), M Cunningham for Keyes (66).

Ref: C Cunning (Antrim).


Hurling Div 1A

Clare 0-20; Waterford 1-16

Wexford 0-20; Offaly 1-17

Kilkenny 0-21; Cork 1-17

Hurling Div 1B

Dublin 1-20; Antrim 1-19

Limerick 1-20; Westmeath 0-17

Tipperary 1-26; Galway 0-24