The All-Ireland champions fielded none of their starting side, while Galway included seven, but it mattered little as Cork finished the season on a high note to the delight of coach John Allen.
“It was never going to be easy in the underfoot conditions, but all credit to our lads who did very well in the circumstances,” said Allen.
“Considering we had none of the team that started on September 11, it was a very satisfying result. The performance was very workmanlike and clearly we have plenty of hurlers keen to make the breakthrough. That can only be good for Cork.
“I was very impressed with our defence, particularly the full-back line. Neil Ronan also looked sharp. It augurs well for the coming year and it looks like we are going to have a lot of competition for places in 2006.”
This was the first year of the competition since it was abandoned in 2000, and was resurrected to coincide with the Oireachtas Festival in Cork this week for the 2005 Year of Culture,
There was little to choose between the teams in the opening quarter, during which the sides were level three times.
Cork had the better appetite and it showed in the 17th minute when a mistake by Galway wing-back Andy Coen gifted Stephen O’Sullivan a goal chance, which he took in style, helping Cork to an interval lead of 1-6 to 0-7.
It might have been different had Noel Kenny not wasted a gilt-edged goal chance when he found himself one on one with the Cork ’keeper, but the Galway forward opted to try to lift the ball and failed, with Martin Coleman off his line to avert the danger.
Galway needed a goal if they were to stay in contention, but with Killian Cronin and Darragh McSweeney superb in the Cork full-back line, it never looked like coming, and when Graham Callanan knocked over two excellent points early in the second-half, it was always going to be the All-Ireland champions’ day.
A succession of points were added in quick succession before Ronan slammed home a splendid goal, and by the end of the third quarter the home side led 2-12 to 0-8.
And Ronan showed his class with his second in the 47th minute.
Despite the one-sided scoreline, Coleman showed his alertness in goal when he denied Niall Healy, before play was held up for an injury to Conor Kavanagh, which led to him being stretched off.
The injury to the Galway player took any bit of bite there was out of the game, and when Ger Farragher goaled from a 20-metre free late in the game it only served to put a more respectable look on the scoreboard.
Cronin and McSweeney can be very pleased with their displays in the full-back line; Kieran Murphy (Erins Own) and Michael Naughton dominated midfield all through, while up front apart from Ronan, Ruairi O’Dwyer and Graham Callanan had their moments.
While the heavy underfoot conditions didn’t suit the lighter Galway players, Tony Óg Regan, Shane Kavanagh, Fergal Healy and Ger Farragher did well for the visitors.
Scorers: Cork: N. Ronan 2-3 (0-1 free); S. O’Sullivan 1-0; K. Murphy (0-1 free), G. Callanan 0-3 each; M. Naughton, M. O’Sullivan, R. O’Dwyer, P. Kelly, M. O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
Galway: G. Farragher 1-4 (1-2 frees, 0-1 65); F. Healy 0-2; G. Mahon, N. Healy, D. Hayes, K. Wade 0-1 each.
CORK: M. Coleman (Ballinhassig); E. O’Sullivan (Cloyne), K. Cronin (do.), D. McSweeney (Blarney); S. O’Neill (Bishopstown), P. Kelly (Erins Own), J. Barrett (Carrigtwohill); k. Murphy (Erins Own), M. Naughton (Cloyne); J. O’Callaghan (Castletownroche), G. Callanan (Glen Rovers), R. O’Dwyer (Ballyartle); M. O’Sullivan (Ballyhea), N. Ronan (do.), S. O’Sullivan (Na Piarsaigh).
Subs: S. Dineen (Ballinhassig) for O’Callaghan; K. Canty (Valley Rovers) for M. O’Sullivan; M. Cussen (Sars) for S. O’Sullivan; M. O’Callaghan (Argideen Rangers) for Naughton.
GALWAY: P. Dullaghan; D. Joyce, T. Óg Regan, N. Corcoran; A. Coen, S. Kavanagh, C. Coen; D. Collins, G. Mahon; F. Healy, G. Farragher, D. Hayes; K. Wade, N. Kenny, N. Healy.
Subs: P. Killilea for D. Hayes; C. Kavanagh for Kenny; N. Kenny for Kavanagh.
Referee: S. Roche (Tipperary).