Sunday 18 March 2018

Walsh praise for Rebels' progress

Cork show true grit to snuff out Galway threat
At Pairc Ui Chaoimh
CorK 1-20
Galway 1-17
Allianz hurling league Div 1

Galway's Eanna Ryan in action against Cork's Ray Ryan.
Galway's Eanna Ryan in action against Cork's Ray Ryan.

When Galway raised the hard questions in the second half, Cork had all the answers ready and well rehearsed.

The responses were crisp and articulate and provided the outline that enabled Denis Walsh's squad to bounce back from the disappointment of losing to Kilkenny to collect their second set of Division 1 points at Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday.

They did it courtesy of an enterprising first half, at the end of which they had opened up a six-point lead and, even more significantly, a battling final quarter in which they out-scored Galway, 0-7 to 0-4.

In between, Galway dominated the third quarter, wiping out the interval deficit to draw level (1-13 each) in the 51st minute.

Shortly afterwards, Ger Farragher had a chance to put Galway in front but the ball cannoned back off an upright from a '65'.

"If we got our noses in front, who knows what might have happened," reflected Galway manager John McIntyre afterwards.

Instead, it was Cork who regained the initiative, firing over three quick points, two from frees by John Gardiner and Pat Horgan after Galway were guilty of careless fouling. Galway cut the deficit to a point in the 68th minute but Cork finished strongly to secure the points which has opened up the division.

"If Galway had won today, it would have left themselves and Kilkenny pulling away, but it has opened up again now. We're delighted to keep ourselves in the mix," said Cork boss Walsh, who had every reason to be pleased with the application displayed by his side.

They were much superior to Galway in the final 20 minutes of the first half which they won by 1-8 to 1-2. Granted, they were helped by Galway's poor shooting (nine wides in the first half) but there was still plenty to admire about Cork's approach.

Cian McCarthy, who turned in an excellent performance at centre-forward, Paudie O'Sullivan and Pat Horgan were quick and inventive in attack.

Jerry O'Connor moved the ball well around midfield while Eoin Cadogan and John Gardiner secured the defensive bolts with customary authority.

Galway, in contrast, were running up a high error count, not just with their shooting but also with their short passing and long-range distribution. For all that, they might have had a goal or two but were let down by poor striking.

Cork made the first decisive move of the day in the 15th minute when Horgan scooted in from the right wing and drew a foul in the square. He took the penalty himself, whipping the ball to the net to put Cork three points ahead.

They were six points clear when Galway got in for their only goal in the 21st minute, with Aongus Callanan providing the finish off a pass from Eanna Ryan.

It was no more than a brief disruption for Cork, who maintained momentum to strike five more points before the interval.

Galway's half-time reshaping involved the introduction of Cyril Donnellan to the half-forward line, moving Farragher to midfield and dropping Donal Barry back to No 5, and it worked on all fronts.


Donnellan's physical presence brought fresh problems for the Cork defence, Farragher improved things around midfield while Barry tightened the defence.

"We knew they'd come at us in the second half. We had played well in the first half but Galway were always going to raise their game," said Pat Horgan.

Galway's fresh intensity enabled them to take command in some key areas and they scored five of the opening six points in the first 10 minutes of the second half. The initiative was very much with them at that stage and even more so when they drew level, but, in fairness to Cork, they held their nerve and were ultimately rewarded.

"We had the hunger and the attitude and the hurling to get things going again when Galway came back at us. That was very pleasing. We could have dropped the heads but we didn't so I'd be happy from that point of view," said Walsh.

Given the absence of so many first choices, plus the fact that some of the players had U-21 games on Saturday evening, it wasn't all that disappointing for Galway who, after winning two of their first three games, are still in strong contention in their bid to retain the title.

The manner in which they battled back in the third quarter was encouraging but, in the end, they just couldn't match Cork's energy late on.

"We showed great spirit and pluck after half-time. That was very important. We continued to make mistakes but the attitude was right, which is good," said McIntyre.

He conceded that Galway may have been flattered by the big wins over Wexford and Offaly and identified next Sunday's clash with Kilkenny as a real crunch game.

"It was always going to be big but even more so now. We have to pick ourselves up quickly and be ready for it," he said.

Cork move on to a clash with Waterford, happy in the knowledge that they're back on track and ready to continue the challenge for a place in the final.

"Overall, I'd be happy enough with how things are progressing. There were a fair lot of positives out there today," said Walsh.

Only 2,866 turned up on a dry, calm spring afternoon, which was extremely disappointing. Clearly, the Cork hurling public are waiting for longer days before getting behind a side that is taking shape quite nicely.

Man of the Match: Cian McCarthy (Cork)

Scorers -- Cork: P Horgan 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-4f), C McCarthy, P O'Sullivan 0-3 each, J Gardiner (2f), N McCarthy, J O'Connor, C Naughton 0-2 each, L Farrell, P Cronin 0-1 each. Galway: G Farragher 0-7 (6f), A Callanan 1-2, D Burke 0-4 (2f), J Gantley 0-2, E Ryan, A Smith 0-1 each.

Cork -- D Og Cusack 7; C O'Sullivan 7, E Cadogan 8, S McDonnell 7; J Gardiner 7, W Egan 7, R Ryan 6; J O'Connor 7, P Cronin 7; T Kenny 6, C McCarthy 8, N McCarthy 7; L O'Farrell 5, P O'Sullivan 7, P Horgan 7. Subs: K Murphy 6 for Farrell 6 (52), L McLoughlin 5 for O'Connor 6 (54), B Murphy 5 for Ryan 6 (58), C Naughton 8 for Kenny 6 (60).

Galway -- J Grealish 7; D Collins 7, J Lee 5, G O'Halloran 6; D Hayes 5, T Og Regan 6, A Cullinane 7; D Burke 7, D Barry 7; E Ryan 7, A Smith 6, G Farragher 6; A Callanan 7, I Tannian 5, J Coen 5. Subs: C Donnellan 7 for Hayes (h-t), J Gantley 7 for Ryan 6 (57), N Cahalan 5 for Farragher (64).

REF -- B Gavin (Offaly).

Irish Independent

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