They nearly killed a Garda motorcyclist, rammed a Garda van, crashed into other cars, and drove at high speed, often on the opposite side of the road.
It all started at 4.30pm on Thursday when they stole a white Peugeot van from MacCurtain St in the city centre.
At approximately 6.30am yesterday morning, the van was linked to a break-in at the Vienna Woods Hotel, Glanmire.
Gardaí were put on alert at around 8.30am when the stolen van was spotted in the Douglas area.
It failed to stop for them and took off at high speed past St Finbarr’s Hospital and into the city centre.
The van continued over Parliament Bridge, down South Mall, and into Parnell Place.
A Garda van had taken up position near the Merchants Quay shopping centre in an attempt to bring the stolen vehicle to a halt.
However, the stolen van rammed it, hit a number of other vehicles, and headed through the bus station car park.
From there it went the wrong way over Brian Boru Bridge and up Summerhill North, through Dillon’s Cross and joined the North Ring Road at Ballyvolane.
Now being pursued by more Garda cars, it headed into Blackpool and onto the Old Mallow Road.
As even more Garda cars converged on the scene, the driver sped north past the Old Log Cabin pub and on to Rathduff.
By that stage, gardaí were trying to ensure other motorists would not be endangered and halted traffic on nearby roads.
Michael Twomey, a motorcycle garda, was stopping traffic on the main Cork-Mallow road (N20) just south of Rathduff when the stolen van ploughed into him.
He was thrown into the air by the force of the impact and landed on the bonnet of a car. The stolen van sped away and headed southbound along the N20 towards the city.
However, at the Blarney interchange, the van was driven down the wrong side of the dual carriageway and continued as far as Blackstone Bridge where it left the main road.
Eyewitnesses at this stage reported up to 13 patrol cars converging on the scene, and they eventually forced the van to stop at Lower Killeens Road, between the bottom of Fairhill and the old Blarney road.
Gardaí arrested the passenger, but the driver fled into nearby fields.
He was caught a short time later.
More than 20 gardaí were involved in the chase.
Garda Twomey, who is in his mid-30s, was taken to Cork University Hospital where he is being treated for serious back injuries. He is married to a garda and they have young children.
Garda Twomey was praised by Superintendent Con Cadogan for ensuring innocent motorists were not injured by the stolen van.
“I’ve had a number of phone calls thanking us, and Garda Twomey in particular, for what he did.
“All the callers have wished Garda Twomey a speedy recovery,” said Superintendent Cadogan.
Gardaí said they are now trying to reunite the stolen property found in the van with its rightful owners.
In the meantime, they are continuing to question the two men, aged 28 and 27.
They were being detained last night at Gurranabraher Garda Station.
Gardaí said they were appealing for witnesses who may be able to assist with this investigation to contact the city’s Gurranabraher Garda Station on 021 4946200, the Garda confidential telephone line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.