Kilkenny's quiet hero gives exhibition of clever hurling as Cats keep on rolling
Kilkenny 2-27 Cork 3-18
Kilkenny's hype man minus the bravado.
Conor Fogarty delivered an exhibition of hard work, clever hurling and bravery as Kilkenny overpowered and outhurled Cork in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling quarter final in Croke Park.
Cork were fancied coming into the game and for parts, they lived up to the billing but Kilkenny were more consistent and they eventually wore the Rebels down.
Early on Cork were much the better team and a certain midfielder was central to it.
Charleville's Darragh Fitzgibbon. In the first half alone, there wasn't a corner the Charleville chopper didn't land on in Croke Park. He does it all in a hurry too and nobody can get near him.
The Cork full forward line are in dreamland. He delivers it quick, he delivers it gift-wrapped and the Kilkenny backs are already two steps behind.
It led to a Hoggie goal and with Mark Colman doing wreck and the Cork forwards finding themselves in acres, Kilkenny were in some trouble. There was only five minutes played.
They played themselves out of it though. Eoin Murphy made a wonder-save and John Donnelly was collecting ball with that needle-touch. They were being outhurled, but they were still in touch.
There was a moment in that first half when you sensed Kilkenny were gaining control for the first time. John Donnelly had just slashed over two points in quick succession and Conor Fogarty was hurling the field. The powerhouse Érin's Own half back hit Colin Fennelly with one clearance and all eyes were on himself and Eoin Cadogan. They wrestled, they fought, there were about five frees committed either way. None were pulled, Fennelly horsed Cadogan out of it and won the ball. And the free was given this time.
He let out a thunderous fist-pump. Cody rubbed his hands. Game on.
If Kilkenny were resuscitated, that man Fogarty was the saviour.
He was marking Conor Lehane and the Midleton man was peripheral at best. Kilkenny's quiet leader was a rock in defence but he was a calming influence in attack too.
He set up one of Donnelly's scores, got in a vital interception down the other end and then cleared the ball that led to Colin Fennelly's goal. Fogarty was tight, he was tigerish but he was clever too and he was Kilkenny's best player in the first half.
But Cork settled down into it again. With Fitzgibbon's delivery incisive and drilled, the Cork full forward line were getting every opportunity. This time around, they were grasping it.
Hoggie was lurking after Darragh Fitzgibbon had again ran the field. The best finisher in hurling made it worth-while with a Brian Corcoran-esque ping off the knees. There was literally nothing Eoin Murphy or indeed Huw Lawlor could do about that.
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) July 14, 2019
Cadogan was coming into it by now, he took Murphy for two fast ones down by the far sideline and Kilkenny were getting nervous. Brian Cody was shaking his head. They were lucky to be only two points down at half-time.
The second half was an altogether different cauldron though. Walter Walsh didn't have to do much upon arrival to get the black and amber folk shouting.
Richie Hogan had the canal net rattling before the Rebels knew where they were. They were soon found to be still in the dressing room.
Cadogan got a point and Harnedy got another. That was it from them as Kilkenny took over from the 40th to the 58th and Cork didn't even manage a score.
Wally Walsh made his presence felt and Adrian Mullen scored a deserved point. Fennelly was giving Cadogan problems and Eoin Murphy was lamping them from miles out.
Fogarty was still a rock. Kearney was moved onto him after Lehane's substitution and he only lasted 10 minutes as well. He made interceptions, gave pinpoint passes and his work-rate was that of a slave. Suddenly, they were leading by eight.
His stats were unbelievable on a day Kilkenny needed him. Each X indicates each occasion he picked up possession - he was on the ball 17 times. Each tick is a score, each triangle is an assist and each circle is an interception.
Cork eventually awoke. Horgan was the man. He somehow caught the ball over Lawlor, Walsh and Deegan before leaving them all for dead and of course, he rattled in the hat-trick.
He was ploughing too lonely a furrow though. Kilkenny's subs made all the difference, Ryan, Walsh and Sheehan managing 0-6 between them as the Cats showed the strength of character and the iron will of old.
They haven't gone anywhere yet. Cody is still the master.
Limerick better be ready.
Eoin Murphy (0-1f), Paul Murphy, Huw Lawlor, Joey Holden, Paddy Deegan, Padraig Walsh, Cillian Buckley, Conor Browne (0-1), Conor Fogarty (0-2), Richie Hogan (1-2), TJ Reid (0-10f), Richie Leahy (0-1), Adrian Mullen (0-1), Colin Fennelly (1-1) John Donnelly (0-2)
Walter Walsh (0-3) for Cillian Buckley (HT), Bill Sheehan (0-1) for Richie Hogan (50), Billy Ryan (0-2) for John Donnelly (62)
Anthony Nash, Sean O’Donoghue, Eoin Cadogan, Stephen McDonnell, Niall O’Leary, Mark Ellis, Mark Coleman (0-1) Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-1) Bill Cooper, Daniel Kearney, Conor Lehane, Luke Meade, Alan Cadogan (0-4) Patrick Horgan (3-10, 1-8f) Seamus Harnedy (0-2)
Robbie O'Flynn for Conor Lehane (39), Shane Kingston for Daniel Kearney (43), Tim O'Mahoney for Bill Cooper (50)