Wednesday 21 March 2018

Canning provides the killer blow as young Rebels denied

All Ireland Minor Hurling Final: Galway 2-17 Cork 2-15

Seán O’Leary Hayes of Cork dejected after the Electric Ireland GAA Hurling All Ireland Minor Championship Final match between Galway and Cork at Croke Park
Seán O’Leary Hayes of Cork dejected after the Electric Ireland GAA Hurling All Ireland Minor Championship Final match between Galway and Cork at Croke Park

Diarmuid Sheehan, Croke Park, Dublin

Cork's dreams of ending a sixteen year famine in Minor hurling came to a shuddering halt in Croke Park last Sunday afternoon as Galway fought back from a sluggish start to deservedly see off what is a very impressive Rebel outfit.

Cork came into this all or nothing encounter buoyed by some terrific displays in this year's championship, most notably a brilliant replay win over Tipperary and a magnificent Munster Final display - seeing off Clare to take the provincial title.

Cork's All Ireland semi-final win over Dublin was hardly considered as one of their best performances but the job got done and the young Rebels headed to Croker in search of glory.

The big news from a line-up perspective on the day was the "surprise" inclusion of Evan Sheehan and Brian Turnbull in the forward line as both were deemed extremely doubtful for a few weeks leading up to this one but on the day most Cork fans were buoyed by the duo's inclusion - albeit both were strapped reasonably strong.

Cork also had the likes of Kildorrery's James Keating to call upon with corner back Conor O'Callaghan from Dromtarriffe also selected to hold a very dangerous Galway front three.

Diarmuid Linehan from Ballyhooley also made a major impact this season and was in for a heavy battle in the middle third while all eyes were going to be on the front three of Turnbull, Sheehan and Robert Downey.

The game exploded into life when Turnbull reacted superbly to plant the ball into the Galway net with less than 10 seconds on the clock. The same player added to his and his team's dynamic start with a point minute later as the boys in red and white looked to put their opponents to the sword early on.

Galway set about reeling in Cork with some points for their own, however, they were rocked again by a brilliant Sheehan goal from an impressively tight angle. Cork pushed their lead out to seven points, but again Galway responded and the tribesmen had the game back to a one score game by the interval (2-7 to 0-10).

After dominating the majority of the opening 30 minutes Cork would have been a little concerned going in at the turn to be just up by three points while Galway would surely have been confident with the way things panned out for them in a difficult opening 30.

Whatever Galway manager Jeffrey Lynskey said at the interval definitely had an impact as his charges came flying out of the traps and were leading inside a couple of minutes when Jack Canning smashed home his side's opening goal. The same player turned the game on its head minutes later when he rose high to finish past a shell-shocked Cork defensive pack.

Galway opened up a five point gap and looked to be well on their way to crushing Cork, but these young Rebels are made of tough stuff and they continued to fight hard to stay in touch and credit to them they caused plenty problems for the newly crowned All Ireland Champions however they never really looked like they were going to be able to get back in front. Cork did have a goal ruled out for square ball late on and despite much criticism and questioning on the pitch it does seem like the call was the correct one.

Galway were able to see out the game after that and to be fair to them they really were the better side on the day. Their response from a really poor opening 15 minutes is something that they deserve great credit for and their willingness to go toe to toe with a Cork side that have plenty positives themselves marks them down as another sign that Galway hurling is on the up.

For Cork, the loss will be tough for all concerned to take but they should take great pride in what was a magnificent run in this season's championship.

Cork: G Collins (Ballinhassig); E Roche (Bride Rovers), G Millerick (Fr O'Neill's), S O'Leary Hayes (Mildeton); J Keating (Kildorrery), C O'Callaghan (Dromtarriffe), A Walsh Barry (Carrigtwohill); D Connery (Na Piarsaigh) 0-1, B Roche (Bride Rovers); C Hanafin (Na Piarsaigh) 0-2, L O'Shea (Lisgoold) 0-3, D Linehan (Ballyhooly); E Sheehan (Na Piarsaigh) 1-0, R Downey (Glen Rovers) 0-1, B Turnbull (Douglas) 1-7(0-3f) Subs: D Hanlon (Blarney) for Linehan (39); B Murphy (Castlelyons) 0-1, for Walsh Barry (45)

Galway: D Fahy (Ardrahan); D Morrissey (Sarsfields), M Gill (Castlegar), C Killeen ( Loughrea); R Glennon (Mullagh), D Loftus (Turloughmore) 0-1, C Caulfield (Kilconieron); C Fahy (Padraig Pearses), C Walsh (Turloughmore); M McManus (Loughrea), C Molloy (Kilnadeema-Leitrim) 0-7f, B Moran (Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry) 0-1; J Canning (Portumna) 2-1, D Mannion (Cappataggle) 0-2, S Bleahane (Ahascragh/Fohenagh) 0-5 Subs: S Ryan (Clarenbridge) for McManus (ht); S McArdle (Clarenbridge) for Loftus (53); M Kennedy (Clarenbridge) for Moran (55); E Fahy (Kilbeacanty) for Walsh (61)

Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny)