Cork 1-26 Galway 0-23
Cork’s rehabilitation after their embarrassing All-Ireland hurling final defeat continued in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, where this win over Galway secured qualification for the knock-out phase of the Allianz Hurling League for the first time in five seasons.
A 1-13 contribution from ace marksman Patrick Horgan enabled them to comfortably ease into the last four of the competition with a game to spare. Not since losing to Limerick in the 2017 quarter-final have the Rebels been involved in a knock-out match in the league.
Now, after securing their fourth win on the spin, they are guaranteed a place in the semi-final in three weeks’ time.
Remarkably, Cork have not won a league title since 1998, and though their priority is the first-round championship tie against Limerick in mid-April, the possibility of securing national silverware is welcome as well.
Together with Wexford, they have been the form team in 2022. So much so that this is the first time they won four league ties on the spin in the top flight since 2005. For Galway, this defeat was a reminder that there is a lot of work still to do. This was the first time they had suffered back-to-back losses this season but they will now turn their attention towards the Leinster championship.
The entire Galway squad and backroom staff linked arms along the side-line before the throw-in to observe a minute’s silence in memory of Paul Shefflin, the younger brother of Galway manager Henry, who died suddenly while out running on Friday.
There was scarcely a breeze on pitch side as Cork dominated the early exchanges. Though they went 0-4 to 0-1 up, Galway hauled them in as the teams went score for score. But the visitors were guilty of wayward finishing, hitting six wides in the first 15 minutes. At the break, the wides tally was 8-7 for the visitors.
The Cork full-back line looked less than assured under the high ball and Conor Whelan’s strength caused them difficulty, while the crowd didn’t like the referee’s strict interpretation of the handpass rule, with a couple of decisions going against Cork.
Eight minutes from the break, Patrick Horgan’s perseverance yielded rich reward when he blocked down Daithí Burke before racing clear and beating Eanna Murphy from close range for the game’s opening score.
The work-rate of the Cork forwards was a notable feature of the first half and it yielded a 1-2 dividend as they converted turnovers into scores. They were in control at half time, leading 1-13 to 0-11, though the visitors did hit the last two points of the half.
The scoring rate dropped after the break, as the teams started to run the bench, but the work-rate of Cork was again rewarded with two points from play.
They managed to keep the visitors at arm’s length and it took a brilliant save from Galway goalkeeper Éanna Murphy to deny substitute Sean Twomey a goal in the 56th minute. The visitors hit the next four points, with Ronan Glennon getting his fifth of the night to narrow the gap to four with 10 minutes left.
But Galway never looked capable of breaching the Cork rearguard and didn’t have a shot on goal at the business end of the contest. As in the first half, their finishing let them down as they hit eight wides compared to three for the home side.
With Patrick Horgan deadly accurate with his frees, Cork comfortably saw out the contest and the hundreds of kids who rushed onto the pitch afterwards were mostly chasing Cork’s ace marksman.
Scorers — Cork: P Horgan 1-13 (9f, 1 65); S Harnedy 0-4; S Barrett, R O’Flynn, M Coleman 0-2 each; G Millerick, D Fitzgibbon,T O’Mahony 0-1 each. Galway: C Cooney 0-6 (5f); R Glennon 0-5; T Monaghan 0-4; G Lee J Cooney 0-2 each; C Mannion C Whelan, J Hastings, T Killeen 0-1 each.
Cork: P Collins; D Cahalane, D O’Leary, S O’Donoghue; T O’Mahony, M Coleman, R Downey; D Fitzgibbon, G Millerick; R O’Flynn, S Barrett, J O’Connor; P Horgan, A Connolly, S Harnedy. Subs: C Lehane for O’Connor (43), S Twomey for Connolly (49), L Meade for Downey (53), C Cahalane for Barrett (63), B Roche for Harnedy (70 + 2)
Galway: E Murphy; J Grealish, D Burke, A Tuohey; T Killeen, P Mannion, F Burke; J Coen, R Glennon; T Monaghan, C Cooney, J Hastings; C Mannion, C Whelan, G Lee. Subs: J Cooney for Grealish (43m), D Morrissey for Tuohey (45), K Cooney for Lee (67), G Thomas for Monaghan (70)
Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).