Sport Hurling

Monday 29 May 2017

Canning turns up heat to leave subdued Rebels out in the cold

DAMIAN LAWLOR, at The Gaelic Grounds

THE Galway revolution continues apace; yesterday evening they came from six points down to whip Cork by 12 and demonstrate once again that they possess championship credentials.

You just can't hide the fact that when this team clicks, few sides will live with them -- they've scored 6-48 in their past two games.

The trouble is, you never know what to expect with them. Even in Limerick, they stunk at the start before putting in one of the hardest-working displays they've engineered in years. They hit 16 wides but under-rated players like David Burke set the tone with their industry and by the end Cork were left chasing shadows.

Cork are in a really bad place this morning, a few careers possibly ended yesterday evening and after leading by six points in the opening minutes they were out-gunned by 1-12 to 0-4 for the remainder of the half.

Some of their substitutions were off the wall; Cian McCarthy hit 0-3 and was replaced in the 57th minute. It made little sense. Thus the inquest will be harsh down south and it deserves to be.

John McIntyre now gets another shot at the Croke Park dream while the Denis Walsh era hangs delicately in the balance. Walsh's three-year term has ended but he expressed a desire last night to continue in the post.

"If the mood in the county is for me to go so be it but if people were happy with what we are doing we might look at staying on," he said. "Well have to look at the overall picture before we make decision."

When Joe Canning fooled John Gardiner with a reverse handpass in the dying moments of this game to set up a spectacular point, it symbolised how the tables have turned.

The Dublin game is fast fading into the memory for the Tribesmen, who had eight different scorers in this outing. One wonders at this stage how Galway were that bad? Yesterday, they chased with relentless hunger and after some clangers in defence, the likes of Shane Kavanagh improved hugely as the game went on.

Coming into the match, despite their erratic form, Galway would always have been hopeful of a result -- the qualifier series has traditionally smiled down on them, with 16 wins and just five losses.

But despite their decent pedigree in this phase of the championship, and their recent drubbing of Clare, they were completely caught in the headlights at the start.

In fact, Cork couldn't have asked for a better start. After just 20 seconds James Skehill gathered the ball in the Galway goal and tried to feed his full-back Shane Kavanagh with a short pass. It was cut out by Paudie O'Sullivan who batted the ball home to give Cork a one-goal lead before some supporters had even taken their seats.

O'Sullivan proceeded to run the show for the next 10 minutes, skinning full-back Kavanagh and hitting another three points before 10 minutes had elapsed. With every ball O'Sullivan seemed assured he had the beating of his man. He used his pace and positioning to exploit the Kinvara man and it was a surprise that McIntyre never made a change in this department.

Instead, the Galway manager kept faith with his defence and after a nervous start, in which they fired four wides and mishandled a number of straight-forward passes, they eventually got on the scoreboard when Andy Smith hit two points from the left wing. In between those scores, Joe Canning hit a free and one from play to claw his team back into the contest.

Canning's positioning was interesting; he started on the edge of the square where he would have fancied his chances of doing damage but then moved out the field where he mopped up the world of ball. Despite trailing 1-5- 0-4 on the quarter-hour mark it was clear that Galway were back in this game. Cork were too ponderous in defence and too loose around the middle of the field where the westerners were able to work the umpires at their leisure.

Damien Hayes burst into life with two sublime points, clearly relishing his role on the right wing and even though the Cork full-forward line -- with Patrick Horgan hitting two fine points -- looked capable of destruction each time they got the ball, their supply dried up. Galway upped their intensity and started closing down the space around the midfield and half-back lines.

Cork, who were until then reliant on their short-passing game, should have reacted and delivered longer and quicker ball but they failed to adjust and slowly lost their grip on proceedings.

It breathed life into the Galway challenge. Finding more space, Canning was able to hit two points from play to level the game at 1-7 to 0-10 after 31 minutes.

Then, just as the 18,900 crowd was preparing to chew the fat at the break, the Connacht men delivered another telling blow when Hayes, the fourth highest scorer in qualifier history with 11-39 to his name, fired home a smashing goal on the stroke of half-time.

Cork were well and truly rattled and while they reeled, Canning added a quick free to leave them 1-12 to 1-7 up at the break, having come from six points down. It at least saved them from a tongue-lashing from McIntyre.

There was never any danger of that happening in the end. The second half was a turkey-shoot as Galway never took the foot off the pedal. They hit endless wides and the likes of Farragher and Hayes kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Canning had a goal with 10 minutes left but referee James McGrath pulled him back for a free in. Galway didn't have long to wait to celebrate. With his first touch of the ball Cyril Donnellan took on Stephen McDonnell, completely out-sprinted him and sealed the win with a terrific goal.

Scorers -- Galway: J Canning 0-10 (4f, 1 '65), D Hayes 1-3, G Farragher 0-4, C Donnellan 1-0, A Smith 0-2, D Burke 0-2, J Gantley, I Tannion 0-1 each. Cork: P O'Sullivan 1-3, P Horgan 0-4 (2f), C McCarthy 0-3, B O'Connor, N McCarthy, B Cooper, C Lehane 0-1 each.

Galway: J Skehill; F Moore, S Kavanagh, D Collins; D Barry, T Og Regan, A Cullinane; A Smith, D Burke; J Gantley, G Farragher, I Tannion; D Hayes, J Canning, A Kerins. Subs: B Daly for A Smith (55), C Donellan for A Kerins (62), K Hynes for I Tannion (66), J Coen for J Gantley (67), D Joyce for D Collins (67)

Cork: D Og Cusack; S McDonnell, E Cadogan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, R Curran, S O'Neill; J O'Connor, W Egan; B O'Connor, C McCarthy, N McCarthy; L O'Farrell, P O'Sullivan, P Horgan. Subs: J Coughlan for L O'Farrell (h-t), C Naughton for S O'Neill (49), L McLoughlin for J O'Connor (55), B Cooper for C McCarthy (55), C Lehane for N McCarthy (67)

Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)

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