Galway 2-19 Cork 1-21
GALWAY beat last year’s beaten finalists Cork in Thurles to earn a July 3 All-Ireland semi-final date against defending champions Limerick in Croke Park.
Henry Shefflin’s squad bounced back after a disappointing Leinster final performance to record their fifth championship win on the spin over the Rebels. It was a dispiriting afternoon for Cork who last secured the Liam MacCarthy Cup 17 years ago.
A poor start saw Cork concede two relatively soft goals in the first quarter and woeful first-half finishing when they had the advantage of the breeze – they converted just seven of their 24 chances - proved their undoing, although Galway goalkeeper Eanna Murphy produced three fine saves.
For Galway, this is a welcome change of fortune. Since losing to Limerick in the 2018 All-Ireland final, they have struggled at the business end of the season, though they reach the 2020 semi-final but again lost to Limerick.
In 2019 they failed to get out of Leinster and last season were beaten by Waterford in Round 2 of the qualifiers.
Galway boss Henry Shefflin acknowledged afterwards that his side face a mammoth task in the semi-final but for now they can enjoy being in the last four of the All-Ireland series.
A handling error from Cork goalkeeper Patrick Collins after 20 seconds gave Galway a dream start. He allowed a long drive Jack Grealish to slip through his fingers and drop into the net. Though Cathal Mannion added a fourth minute point, Cork dominated the first quarter.
Their defenders consistently beat the Galway forwards and their forwards created an abundance of chances but butchered 2-6 in the first few minutes.
Galway goalkeeper Eanna Murphy saved an early Alan Connolly effort. Then, after 11 minutes Luke Meade combined with Alan Connolly, whose peach of an off-load was collected by Robbie O’Flynn, whose shot was brilliantly by Murphy.
Then to rub salt into the Cork wounds, Galway secured a second goal against the run of play after 17 minutes. A fatal hesitation from corner-back Sean O’Donoghue allowed Conor Whelan to get goal side of him. He still had a lot of work to do, but he found the net to gave Galway a flattering 2-2 to 0-3 lead.
Murphy rescued Galway for a third time in the 22nd minute when Darragh Fitzgibbon broke from the cover, but he didn’t make proper contact with his shot from close range. Still, it was outstanding stop from the Galway keeper.
And just to compound Cork’s misery, Conor Lehane, who was having a nightmare afternoon with his free-taking, missed the subsequent 65.
The finishing of both sides did improve in the latter stages of the first half with a brace of points from Mark Coleman and a brilliant effort from Robbie O’Fynn, but Galway replied with their own brace from David Burke and Joseph Cooney.
But Galway scarcely deserved to lead by five at the break (2-7; 0-8). The most telling statistic from a disappointing first half was Cork’s tally of 12 wides compared to Galway’s six.
Cianan Fahy, who had his proposed two-match ban quashed on a technicality by the GAA’s Central Hearing Committee, was withdrawn after 30 minutes and Galway also lost defender Gearoid McInerney through injury just before the break.
The leading scorer of all-time in championship hurling Patrick Horgan was introduced at half time – replacing the off-form Lehane.
Cork got the first crucial break in the second half; Shane Kingston sprinted away from a ruck of players and had a free run at goal, and he made no mistake from close range.. Galway hit back through with three points on the spin, the final one a brilliant effort from Conor Whelan, who also provided the assist for the first.
But Darragh Fitzgibbon hit a brace as the game finally threatened to catch fire.
Galway substitutes Brian Concannon and Jason Flynn got on the scoreboard while Patrick Horgan got his first to make it a three-point game (1-13; 0-13) after 52 minutes.
But Galway had a brief golden spell hitting three points in a row once again; Cathal Mannion had a chance to make it a four-point game, but he lost possession. Horgan hit a free for Cork almost immediately and the initiative swung their way again.
Down the final straight it was anybody’s game. Galway had the initiative but failed to convert three long range frees from deep inside their own half
A third point from 58th minute substitute Alan Cadogan left two points between the teams with two of the allocated five minutes of injury time played. Then a monster free from Horgan hit the upright and after a scramble the umpire ruled that the ball had gone wide off a Galway player.
A Darragh Fitzgibbon point left the minimum between them but there was no last-minute reprieve for Cork. Jack Grealish, who had scored the opening goal, brilliantly fielded the Cork restart and when the ball spilled in a subsequent ruck, Cathal Mannion secured possession to seal the win.
Scorers: Galway: C Whelan 1-2, C Cooney 0-5 (4f), C Mannion 0-3, J Grealish 1-0, J Cooney, D Burke (0-2) each. R Glennon, T Monaghan, J Flynn, B Concannon, J Coen 0-1 each.
Cork: S Kingston 1-2 (1f), P Horgan 0-4 (2f, 1 65) R O’Fynn, M Coleman (2f, 1 sideline), A Cadogan, each, D Fitzgibbon 0-3 each, D Cahalane, L Meade, C Lehane (1f) 0-1 each
Cork: P Collins; N O’Leary, R Downey, S O’Donoghue; D Cahalane, C Joyce, M Coleman; D Fitzgibbion, L Meade; R O’Flynn, S Harnedy, S Kingston; T O’Mahony, A Connolly, C Lehane. Subs: P Horgan for Lehane ht; J O’Connor for Connolly (47), G Millerick for Downey (51), A Cadogan for O’Mahony (58), T O’Connell for Harnedy (68),
Galway: Eanna Murphy; J Grealish, Daithi Burke, D Morrissey; P Mannion, G McInerney F Burke; J Cooney, R Glennon; T Monaghan, C Cooney, David Burke. C Mannion, C Fahy, C Whelan. Subs: B Concannon for Fahy (30), J Flynn for McInerney (34), J Coen for Monaghan (45), E Niland for David Burke (69), G Lee for Monaghan (70 +4)
Referee: Paud O’Dywer (Carlow)