More misery for Rebels as Galway land third title
All-Ireland IHC final: Galway0-21 Cork 0-14
Galway senior manager Anthony Cunningham said it was a timely boost to lift the All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling title as they bid to topple bigger fish at the business end of the championship.
Cunningham, who was also in charge of this side, saw his men pull away in the second half to clinch their third intermediate title and heap further misery on Cork, who were hoping for a small measure of compensation at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
This competition has served Galway well this summer, with 18-year old Conor Whelan progressing from the grade to star on his senior debut against Cork. That made him ineligible for Saturday evening's contest but they didn't miss him as several other potential seniors put their hands up.
"We had a few nice scores there from Dan Nevin, Tadhg Haran, Kevin McHugo and Eamon Brannigan," said Cunningham.
"It is great to see it. Cork really put it up to us and we are delighted with the win. All in all, we got three nice matches out of it - the competition has worked well for us."
The Rebels were the reigning champions but couldn't use any of last year's winning squad, although it was notable none of them featured for Jimmy Barry-Murphy this summer.
Manager Ronan Dwane was disappointed not to retain the crown as the curtain now comes down on Cork's dismal hurling year. "We knew we were up against it but you always think you have a chance," said Dwane.
"But the players will all be eligible again next season and the Galway model is something Cork maybe should look at.
"I know the competition doesn't decree that but it really helps them translate between U-21 and senior," he said.
Cork did well to recover from a sluggish start as Nevin, in particular, helped Galway get on top in a bid for their third title in the grade and first since 2002.
But Noel McNamara, Fintan O'Leary and Will Leahy picked off some good points for Cork and an exciting second half seemed likely when the sides went in level at 0-9 each at the break.
Galway, however, had other ideas and their excellent use of the ball presented plenty of scoring chances and they had the accuracy to pull away, outscoring the Rebels 0-14 to 0-5 after the restart.
Haran and O'Leary exchanged points directly after half-time but then the Tribesmen hit four in a row with McHugo and Haran getting two apiece - and they never looked back after that.
The sides twice exchanged points again before Galway again hit another four without reply as they eased their way to the title.
Scorers - Galway: D Nevin 0-5, T Haran 0-5 (0-4f, 0-1 sl), D Higgins 0-3, E Burke 0-2, K McHugo 0-2, E Brannigan 0-2, S Moloney 0-2, J Kennedy 0-2. Cork: N McNamara 0-4 (0-4f), W Leahy 0-3, F O'Leary 0-3, T Murphy 0-3 (0-2f), K O'Neill 0-1.
Galway: J Skehill; C Flynn, D O'Donoghue, A Tuohy; P Flaherty, D Burke, S Cooney; K McHugo, D Higgins; D Nevin, T Haran, E Burke; B Molloy, S Moloney, E Brannigan. Subs: B Daly for Brannigan (17-20 mins, blood), B Keane for O'Donoghue (h-t), J Kennedy for E Burke (48), B Daly for McHugo (53), R O'Meara for Brannigan (55), K Lane for Higgins (30).
Cork: P Buckley; B Twomey, E Finn, G Murphy; K Kavanagh, D O'Donovan, T Lawrence; K O'Neill, S McCarthy; W Leahy, M Collins, T Murphy; N McNamara, F O'Leary, D O'Driscoll. Subs: P Butler for Finn (h-t), M Brennan for McCarthy (46 mins), C O'Brien for G Murphy (52), A Cagney for T Murphy (52).
Ref: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).