By Jack Flynn
Kilkenny 1-13, Cork 0-6
What do you get when you combine two severely undermanned teams, an extremely late starting time and a sparse, mostly uninterested crowd? You get Kilkenny and Cork’s Senior Hurling match at Gaelic Park on Sunday.
The last match on the itinerary was one that was perhaps better saved for another day, but Kilkenny plodded its way to a 1-13 to 0-6 win as the late-evening shadows began to take hold over the Bronx.
Both teams struggled to field a full side, and the search for bodies brought about a 15-minute delay in a match that was already scheduled to begin when most people were sitting down to Sunday dinner.
Kilkenny actually started the match a man down, as John Doyle was a lonely man up front for his side. Doyle was eventually joined on the full forward line by fan favorite Mark Kennedy for the second half.
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But by that time, Kilkenny had already built a lead that would stand the test of an hour’s time and give them a victory.
Kilkenny took an 0-8 to 0-4 lead in part because the play of John Dervan, who contributed 3 points, and because Cork was in the midst of a typically poor match.
The gap could have been wider, but Cork keeper Tommy Hardigan made several key saves, including a point-blank stop on Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan early on, to keep his team within shouting distance of the lead.
Kilkenny took over in the second half, scoring four straight points to take an 0-12 to 0-4 lead. Dervan struck twice more during the run, giving him 5 points on the day and making him the match’s high scorer.
Perhaps the most entertaining and comical scene of the match came midway through the second half, when the diminutive Kennedy plowed over Cork’s appropriately named full back Big Chuck O’Connor while in pursuit of the ball.
Kennedy took possession, spun and aimed for the goal while O’Connor, who somehow got the worst of the collision, picked himself up and dusted himself off. However, Kennedy was off the mark, putting somewhat of a damper on what was ultimately the only thing worth remembering about this match.
Kilkenny’s James Joyce was forced out of the net minutes later with a head injury, but Cork’s fortunes did not improve. Two Brendan O’Connell points were the only tallies Cork could muster in the second half, and Kilkenny would use a late goal from Peter Breen to come away with the win.
Kilkenny scorers: Breen 1-1, Dervan 0-5, Edge and Kennedy 0-2, Walsh, Hogan and Doyle 0-1.
Cork: O’Connell 0-3, Spillane, Big Chuck O’Connor and Small Chuck O’Connor all 0-1.