Victory to Kilkenny in this NHL Division 1A clash with Cork, 8,274 in attendance on a chilly afternoon in Walsh Park as the home side’s goals gave them the platform for the win.
The visitors defended the dressing-room end in the first half, and both sides had personnel changes before the throw-in, with Billy Ryan and Kevin Kelly coming in for Martin Keoghan and Richie Hogan for the home side, while Cork midfielder Bill Cooper was replaced by Conor Cahalane.
Billy Ryan of Kilkenny in action against Conor O’Sullivan and Damien Cahalane of Cork, right, during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A Round 1 match between Kilkenny and Cork at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
It was 0-2 apiece after a low-key opening ten minutes, Aidan Walsh and Patrick Horgan (free) to Kevin Kelly’s two frees: both sides hit some poor wides as they acclimatised.
Newcomer Declan Dalton’s sideline cut gave Cork the lead before Conor Delaney and Horgan swapped points: 0-4 to 0-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Three dead balls from Kelly gave the Cats the lead and after a Horgan point the home side goaled. A clever Billy Ryan lay-off on 26 minutes opened the Cork defence and sub Richie Leahy netted.
Horgan pointed twice in response and it was 1-6 to 0-7, the game livening up somewhat. Billy Ryan and Horgan swapped points again but a Horgan free and Cormac Murphy’s late effort made it 0-10 to 1-8 at the half.
John Donnelly and Murphy swapped points on the resumption before Billy Ryan fielded cleanly and soloed through to goal on 40 minutes: a James Maher point immediately afterwards and it was 2-10 to 0-11.
Kilkenny were now on top and when Kelly nailed a difficult free with 20 minutes left it was 2-13 to 0-13. Cork needed a goal to make it interesting but the Cats were able to take points to maintain their lead: a terrific Eoin Murphy save from Horgan helped Kilkenny preserve their advantage.
Scorers for Kilkenny: K. Kelly (0-8, 1 65, 7 frees); B. Ryan (1-1); R. Leahy (1-0); J. Donnelly (0-3); C. Delaney (0-2); G. Aylward, C. Fogarty, C. Browne, P. Deegan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cork: P. Horgan (0-10, 5 frees); C. Murphy (0-4); D. Kearney, A. Walsh, D. Dalton (sideline) (0-1 each).
KILKENNY: E. Murphy, P. Murphy, H. Lawlor, T. Walsh, C. Delaney, P. Deegan, E. Morrissey, J. Maher, C. Fogarty (c), J. Donnelly, G. Aylward, G. Malone, G. Aylward, B. Ryan, L. Scanlon, K. Kelly.
Subs: R. Leahy for Malone (inj, 16); C. Browne for Maher (44); L. Blanchfield for Scanlon (57); P. Lyng for Aylward (64).
CORK: A. Nash, S. McDonnell, D. Cahalane, C. O’Sullivan, C. Joyce, T. O’Mahony, S. O’Donoghue, C. Cahalane, C. Murphy, D. Kearney (c), D. Dalton, L. Meade, J. Coughlan, A. Walsh, P. Horgan.
Subs: J. O’Connor for Coughlan (HT); C. Lehane for C. Cahalane (42); D. Lowney for C. O’Sullivan (50); M. O’Halloran for Meade (62)
Referee: J. Owens (Wexford)
Before the game there was a minute’s silence for the late Michael ‘Mick’ O’Neill, popular groundsman at Nowlan Park.