GALWAY 2-19 CORK 4-10 A HEROIC Galway created a piece of history at Croke Park yesterday when they captured the All-Ireland minor hurling title for the second year in-a-row.
And what a performance the gallant westerners had to put up before they were able to repeat last year's final win over Tipperary. In fact, Galway had to unearth tremendous reserves of resilience and courage before they put paid to Cork's dream of glory.
With 11 minutes of the game remaining the balance of power seemed to have shifted in Cork's favour when left corner-forward Kieran Murphy's goal put them four points clear.
Murphy's initial shot - a penalty - was well saved by 'keeper Aidan Diviney, but the Cork player followed up to bat the rebound to the net.
That score put the Munster champions 4-8 to 1-13 in front, but remarkably Galway surged back and restricted the Rebels to just two more points. Just a minute after Murphy's goal, they replied with a point from inspirational midfielder Gerry Farragher, who shot eight points of his side's total.
And almost immediately the sides were level through two-goal hero David Greene, who followed up his first half contribution by lashing the ball to the net from a delightfully measured pass from Farragher.
Inside two minutes Galway had added a further two points. And even when Cork steadied themselves with a pointed Murphy free, the young Tribesmen stormed back with a hat-trick of points, before Cork salvaged some respectability with the last score of the match from sub Stephen O'Sullivan.
Galway boss John Hardiman admitted he was concerned when Cork forged four points in front, but said they had talked about how to respond. ``We stressed to the lads at half-time that if Cork got a goal, we must get the next score at all costs.
``So I was hopeful that we would bounce back quickly after the penalty. Thankfully our hopes were vindicated with Gerry Farragher getting a point and then David Greene shooting a goal to bring us back level. Once that happened, I was optimistic that we would come through.
``Today a huge number of players improved on their performances in the All-Ireland semi-final against Offaly and I think that we well deserved our victory because of our tremendous total of 2-19.''
As well as battling back from the blow of Cork's fourth goal, Galway also displayed tremendous composure by coping with the loss of star forward Kevin Brady. Brady was injured after a second minute collision with Cork right corner-back Colm Sullivan and was forced to retire midway through the half.
Galway looked the sharper and more purposeful side in the initial period, but they were caught napping by two goals against the run of play, the first after seven minutes by Setanta Ó hAilpín, and the second by Tomás O'Leary after 20 minutes.
After four minutes of first half injury time Murphy edged Cork 2-5 to 0-10 in front but just before the break Greene struck for his first goal.
At half-time we were quite happy with the scoreline but not with our performance,'' said Cork manager John Hardiman.
``And then after getting the lift of going four points in front we were never able to capitalise on that situation. But at the same time Galway deserve great credit for coming back at us, and they fully deserved their victory.''
A major factor in Galway's success was the tremendously inspirational displays of right corner-back Brian O'Mahoney, left half-back Adrian Cullinane, midfielder Farragher, who played in last year's win and is again eligible for next year, nominal right corner-forward Damien Hayes and the predatory scoring instincts of left corner-forward Greene.
In the first half, Farragher emulated his achievement in last year's final by steering the ball over the bar from a line ball.
Cork's captain Mark O'Connor led by example from midfield, and the Rebels had also other distinguished performers in defenders Jerry O'Brien , Paul Chaney and Graham Calnan and forwards O'Leary, Ó hAilpín and Murphy.
SCORERS - Galway: G Greene 2-2, G Farragher 0-8 (5f, 1 s'line), D Hayes 0-3, R Murray, JP O'Connell 0-2 each, A Cullinane, T Kavanagh 0-1 each. Cork: K Murphy 2-4 (4f), S Ó hAilpín 1-1, T O'Leary 1-0, M O'Connor 0-2 (1f), C Brosnan, E Collins, S O'Sullivan 0-1 each.
GALWAY - Aidan Diviney; B O'Mahoney, T Regan, N Corcoran; S Kavanagh, Adrian Diviney, A Cullinane; G Farragher, B Coen; R Murray, P Garvey, K Brady; D Hayes, T Kavanagh, D Greene. Subs: J Gantley for Brady (15), F Moore for Corcoran (38), JP O'Connell for Gantley (41), K Brady for Garvey (57).
CORK - Kieran Murphy (Erins Own); C Sullivan, J O'Brien, B Murphy; J O'Neill, P Tierney, G Calnan; M O'Connor, B Carey; G McLoughlin, C Brosnan, T O'Leary; S Ó hAilpín, E Collins, Kieran Murphy (Sarsfields). Subs: D Cashman for McLoughlin (27), K Foley for Brosnan (h/t), S O'Sullivan for Carey, R McCarthy for Calnan (59).
REF - B Kelly (Westmeath).