Thursday 23 November 2017

Rampant Galway skin timid Rebels

Galway 2-28 Cork 0-22

Conor Whelan celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during Galway’s victory over Cork
Conor Whelan celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during Galway’s victory over Cork
Galway’s Aidan Harte challenges Cork’s Bill Cooper during their All-Ireland SH quarter-final clash in Thurles
Galway’s Jonathan Glynn wheels away in celebration after scoring his side’s opening goal against Cork
Daniel Kearney, Cork, in action against Jonthan Glynn, Galway
Aidan Walsh, Cork, in action against Joe Canning, Galway
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

If the Cork public were shocked by the extent of the footballers' woes on Saturday evening, they were left totally traumatised by the demolition of their hurlers' ambitions yesterday.

In the space of 21 hours, the county's footballers and hurlers were dumped out the All-Ireland race at Semple Stadium in depressing circumstances that nobody could possibly have envisaged.

Cork supporters always expect more from their hurlers than footballers because history has shown them to be more resilient.

Not this weekend. The footballers were dismally bad against Kildare on Saturday but the hurlers were even worse against Galway yesterday, struggling from start to finish to live with hugely enterprising opposition.

Indeed were it not for Galway's wild shooting - they posted 23 wides - Cork's embarrassment would have increased to full-blown humiliation.

It came close enough to the latter anyway during the closing minutes when Galway were so dominant that Cork looked like a side that couldn't wait to get into the dressing-room.


And while that might have brought temporary respite from the misery, it could be no more than that. Frankly, this was a truly dreadful performance by Cork, lacking shape and substance.

Worst of all, there was no great heart in Cork's effort apart from a brief spell following the sending-off of Damien Cahalane in the 50th minute on a second yellow card after he caught Joseph Cooney as the Galway sub flicked the ball past him.

Galway were leading by five points at that stage, before Cork cut it to four just past the hour mark. Briefly, it looked as if Galway's wastefulness might cause them problems but once they readjusted their sights, Cork had no answer.

Galway outscored their wilting rivals by 1-6 to 0-2 in the final nine minutes, the goal from teenager, Conor Whelan, who enjoyed a dream debut.

The 18-year-old Kinvara star was tossed in at the deep end, playing his first senior Championship game on the All-Ireland quarter-final stage, a challenge which might have proved too much for many youngsters.

However, once he played his way into the game, he was extremely comfortable among far more experienced company and, by the close of play, he had taken his personal total to 1-2.

He was still two points short of Cathal Mannion, who shot 0-7 from open play, with Jonathon Glynn posting 1-2.

Jason Flynn and Cyril Donnellan did well too on a day when Galway certainly weren't relying on Joe Canning.

It was just as well for them as he had one of those occasions when little went right for him with his shooting.

He hit no fewer than eight wides which, on another occasion, might have been a match-turner.

Not this time. His colleagues shot another 15 wides between them, but it was a luxury they could afford on a day when a giant maroon marker was put down in the first minute.

Glynn arrowed in from left half-forward, flicked the ball over Shane O'Neill's head, before whipping it to the net.

The ease with which Glynn found such a wide gap would have alarmed Jimmy Barry-Murphy and, sure enough, it turned out to be a portent of things to come.

At no stage did the Cork defence look secure, but with the Galway strike force miscuing, the margin between the teams throughout the first half was a whole lot smaller than it should have been.

Indeed, Galway were only a point ahead after 27 minutes before they extended it to four points (1-15 to 0-14) just before the interval.

The big questions going into the second half were whether Cork would raise their game and what impact Galway's inaccuracy would have on them.

Also, they had lost midfielder, Davy Burke, who was going well, to injury so, given past experiences, Galway supporters would have been apprehensive at the interval.

All the more so since Galway's last win in the All-Ireland quarter-final was all of 10 years ago, while their record in Semple Stadium wasn't very encouraging either.

However, it was all so different yesterday. Cork cut the deficit to three points after half-time, but Galway quickly re-asserted themselves.


The inaccuracy virus continued to affect them, but their dominance throughout the various lines was so complete that Cork just couldn't get a foothold.

Cahalane's dismissal made a bad situation worse and once Cork's mini-rebellion lost impetus, it was always going to be an easy run home for Galway.

Even allowing for Cork's inefficiencies, it was a highly impressive performance by Galway, one which will re-awaken All-Ireland dreams in a county that hasn't hosted Liam MacCarthy for 27 years.

The improvement in their first touch since the Leinster final was immeasurable, while their aerial dominance was among the most marked in the Championship so far.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy admitted afterwards that Galway's greater physicality was a major factor, although it doesn't explain why Cork were so sloppy even when they got possession.

They looked a completely different side to the battling force that wore Clare down in the qualifiers, but then they weren't allowed the same latitude by a Galway team that grew in confidence as the game progressed.

They will still start as outsiders against Tipperary in the semi-final, but they certainly have the talent to ask tougher questions of Eamon O'Shea's men than were raised in the Munster Championship.

If Galway's shooting improved by even 50 per cent, they would have hit Cork for 2-40, a remarkable return against opposition that was bidding to reach the All-Ireland semi-final for a fourth successive year.

Cork shot seven wides, while the closest they came to scoring a goal was when Patrick Horgan drew a fine save from Colm Callanan in the 58th minute.

Otherwise, the Galway full-back sealed off all the approach routes to goal while Aidan Harte was a very influential figure further out.

So while Galway march into the semi-final, Cork are left with the grim realisation that they have been found out twice this summer.

A new-look Waterford team were too good for them in May and it was even worse yesterday as Galway made them look distinctly second rate.

Clearly, it's a time for serious reflection in Cork, whose minors and U-21s are also out of the Championship.

Scorers - Galway: C Mannion 0-7, J Glynn, C Whelan 1-2 each, J Canning 0-5 (2fs, 1 '65, 1 sideline), J Flynn 0-3, C Donnellan,David Burke, A Harte 0-2 each, A Smith, J Cooney, N Healy 0-1 each.

Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (7fs, 1 '65), C Lehane, S Harnedy 0-3 each, D Kearney 0-2, B Lawton, C Murphy, A Cadogan, P O'Sullivan, A Walsh 0-1 each.

Galway - C Callanan 7; J Coen 7, J Hanbury 7, P Mannion 8; A Harte 8, I Tannian 6, Daithi Burke 7; A Smith 7, David Burke 7; C Whelan 8, C Donnellan 7, J Glynn 9; J Flynn 7, J Canning 6, C Mannion 9. Subs: J Cooney 7 for David Burke (h-t), D Collins 6 for Donnellan (57), G Lally 6 for Tannian (60), F Moore for Smith (64); N Healy for Glynn (67).

Cork - A Nash 7; S O'Neill 5, B Murphy 6, S McDonnell 5; A Walsh 5, M Ellis 6, C Murphy 6; D Cahalane 4, D Kearney 6; B Lawton 5, P Cronin 5, B Cooper 5; C Lehane 6, S Harnedy 6, P Horgan 6.

Subs: J Coughlan 5 for Cronin (h-t), L McLoughlin 5 for C Murphy (44), A Cadogan 6 for Lawton (46), P O'Sullivan 5 for Cooper (56).

REF - J Owens (Wexford)


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