Thursday 19 April 2018

Conor Lehane on top form to help Cork seize lifeline and leave Galway 'bitterly disappointed'

Cork 2-22 Galway 0-25

Cork defender Cormac Murphy tries to force his way past Galway forward Cathal Mannion during yesterday’s Allianz NHL Division One relegation play-off at Pearse Stadium yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork defender Cormac Murphy tries to force his way past Galway forward Cathal Mannion during yesterday’s Allianz NHL Division One relegation play-off at Pearse Stadium yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor Whelan, Galway, in action against Damien Cahalane, Cork. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor Whelan, Galway in action against Damien Cahalane, Cork. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Galway manager Michéal Donoghue was left searching for positives after his side were relegated from Division 1A after a tense relegation play-off at Pearse Stadium.

Facing the drop just six months on from contesting an All-Ireland final is a tough blow for the Tribesmen, but in truth they were unlucky to lose yesterday as late goals from Seamus Harnedy and Patrick Horgan rescued Cork in the closing minutes.

Confirmation that forward Jonathan Glynn will not be making a return from America to play championship hurling is another setback for Donoghue, but his side will regret a charitable opening 12 minutes that was devoid of intensity and laden with slack defending as the Cork forwards filled their boots from play.

"When you're playing Cork in a game like that, it just ended up being a shoot-out. You don't want that.

"Obviously we are bitterly disappointed, but look, we just have to push on. Other teams have been here before an ended up having a good championship so hopefully that'll happen us.

"It's a bitter disappointment. Galway needs to be at the top table with the top teams and unfortunately we're down in 1B.

"But for the immediate future, we'll just concentrate on the championship. Next year when the league comes back round, we'll look to get back to the top flight," said Donoghue.

Cork were probably deserving winners considering they led 0-9 to 0-4 after just 12 minutes. In Conor Lehane they had a real match-winner and his six points were of real quality and came a crucial moments for his team.

This win in front of 6,110 has rescued what was a hugely disappointing campaign to date which saw five defeats from five, but manager Kieran Kingston says he ignored the criticism that was levelled at his side in the build-up.

In recent weeks the Cork defence was labelled the worst defence to represent the county in recent times, but the Cork manager chose to ignore the doubters.

"I didn't see those comments to be honest, but you're always going to get that criticism," said Kingston. "I don't take much notice of the media comments because when you win, you're a hero, you're fantastic, you're tactically very good. And when you lose, you're tactically naive and your defenders are wrong.

"That's all about selling papers. If you got concerned about those comments, players wouldn't play and managers wouldn't manage.


"We set out at the start of the league, obviously one of our main priorities was to retain our status. That was our number one priority. The first three games didn't go the way we wanted them to.

"We put ourselves in a position where we had to come to Galway and win a one-off game which is never easy so I'm proud of the players and the performance they put in today."

Kingston can be thankful that Horgan and Harnedy were on their toes to goal late on, but the win was built from their bright start.

In the first 12 minutes Lehane, Brian Lawton, Alan Cadogan and Daniel Kearney made the most of some charitable defending from Galway as Cork raced into a 0-9 to 0-4 lead. Too often the Galway defence were a yard too far away from their man, while Cork's short stick passing found a player in space.

But with Joe Canning in brilliant form from his centre-forward berth Galway rallied in the second quarter. Points from Aidan Harte, Cathal Mannion and Conor Whelan, as well as Canning accuracy from dead balls meant Galway deserved to be within a point at the interval, 0-14 to 0-13.

Cork started well after the break thanks to a stunning Lehane solo effort, and it wasn't until the 46th minute that Galway finally took the lead for the first time. The game was level on a couple of more occasions before a run of three scores in a row from Galway gave them what seemed to be a comfortable lead.

But they were caught out in the closing nine minutes. First Harnedy's shot found the net through a crowd of defenders, before Horgan pulled first time on a breaking ball to clinch the win for Cork.

Scorers - Cork: P Horgan 1-7 (3f), C Lehane 0-6, A Cadogan 0-3, S Harnedy 1-0; D Kearney, B Lawton 0-2; W Egan, B Cooper 0-1. Galway: J Canning 0-13 (11f, 1'65, 1'sl); N Burke, C Mannion 0-3; D Burke, A Harte, P Brehony, C Whelan, I Tannian, A Smith 0-1 each.

Cork - A Nash 7; D Cahalane 5, S McDonnell 7, C O'Sullivan 8; C Murphy 8, C Joyce 7, L McLoughlin 7; W Egan 7, D Kearney 7; B Lawton 7, C Lehane 9, B Cooper 7; A Cadogan 7, S Harnedy 6, P Horgan 8. Subs: J Cronin 6 for Cadogan (58), W Leahy 6 for Lawton (66), K Burke for Kearney (71).

Galway - J Skehill 6; D Collins 6, J Hanbury 8, P Hoban 6; A Tuohy 6, D Burke 6, A Harte 6; D Glennon 7, P Brehony 7; A Smith 6, J Canning 9, N Burke 7; C Whelan 6, C Mannion 7, J Flynn 6. Subs: I Tannian 7 for Harte (17-22 blood & 28), K Hussey 7 for Hoban (35), C Donnellan 5 for Flynn (62).

Ref - J McGrath (Westmeath)

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