Hayes points to pleasing performance

Galway 1-24 Cork 1-21

It was close all the way through and the fact that Galway triumphed was largely due to their improved play, which greatly pleased manager Conor Hayes.

The outcome didn't bother the Cork coach John Allen but the team's form did! "It would have been a bonus to win and losing did not matter," he said. "For us to get a good performance is important and we didn't get it. I am disappointed from that point of view."

Pointing to the fact that changes in personnel and position had been forced on them by the failure at home to Tipperary the previous Sunday, Hayes said he had been reassured by the display: "We were happy with the result and with the performance, particularly in the second half. We are not that disappointed to miss out on the final. We got three good games in the second phase and that was our main aim," he commented.

While Allen felt there were few positives to be taken from the way Cork performed - apart from a 'fine game' from Joe Deane - they looked the more complete outfit in the first half. They were always comfortable in the full-back line, John Gardiner was bettering Eugene Cloonan in the centre and Sean Óg Ó hAilpín played with typical enthusiasm and efficiency on the left wing.

Specifically, there was much to admire in the play of Ben O'Connor (mostly too strong for Ollie Canning) on the right wing, Niall McCarthy (as a provider) in the centre and Deane - from general play and superb free-taking from a variety of angles and distances - in the left corner.

Mainly as a result of a 14th minute goal from Deane, following a long free from Gardiner, which broke in the square, Cork forced the pace. Galway, missing Liam Hodgins and starting without Kevin Broderick and Ger Farragher in attack, had seen Shane Kavanagh start promisingly at centre-back and Derek Hardiman did well in the unusual position of full-back. He was facing Eamonn Collins, picked for his first game in a year after Brian Corcoran had to withdraw because of the flu. David Collins and Tony Óg Regan won regular possession at midfield against the equally effective Cork pairing of Jerry O'Connor and Tom Kenny.

However, apart from Richie Murray's menacing play on the right wing (and later on the other flank), there was a distinct lack of scoring threat from the attack until much later in the game. With Deane hitting two superb scores from play from opposite wings, Cork were to stay in front until David Collins levelled scores in the 32nd minute. That was just after an improving Alan Kerins (in his first game back in the side) made the opening for Murray to goal. Niall McCarthy got through a lot of good work in the centre for the All-Ireland champions and the majority of their scores were the result of good combination play. At the break they were 1-12 to 1-11 in front.

The third quarter was equally close, although Cork started to be more reliant on Deane for scores. McCarthy lost his grip after two bad wides and Ben O'Connor faded a bit after putting over a terrific point from the left sideline. Galway saw Damien Hayes step up on his form at left corner-forward and Kevin Hayes got through a lot of work against Diarmuid O'Sullivan.

More significantly, Cloonan was much more involved further out, Murray was again prominent and Kerins was to pick off three good scores under pressure. There was a better return from the defence as a unit and the midfielders, Regan especially, remained competitive. The net effect was that the visitors had the ability to surge two points clear after drawing level again in the 50th minute.

Cork spurned a number of opportunities for points entering the last ten minutes, but Deane kept them in touch with two pointed frees from the middle of the field. Cloonan was equally unerring in his free-taking and ultimately Galway's greater determination earned them a deserved victory for only the third time at the venue.

*Offaly referee Brian Gavin handled the game well.

Scorers: Galway: E. Cloonan 0-7 (0-6 frees); R. Murray 1-4 (0-2 sideline); T. Óg Regan. A. Kerins and D. Hayes 0-3 each; D. Collins and K. Hayes (0-1 free) 0-2 each. Cork: J. Deane 1-10 (0-6 frees); N. McCarthy, J. Gardiner, B. O'Connor and N. Ronan 0-2 each; K. Murphy (Sarsfields), J. O'Connor and E. Collins 0-1 each.

GALWAY: L. Donoghue (capt.); D. Joyce, D. Hardiman, C. Coen; David Hayes, S. Kavanagh, O. Canning; D. Collins, T. Óg Regan; R. Murray, E. Cloonan, A. Callanan; Damien Hayes, K. Hayes, A. Kerins.Subs: A. Smyth for Callanan (49th minute); F. Healy for Joyce (70th); D. Forde for K. Hayes (71st).

CORK: D. Óg Cusack; B. Murphy, D. O'Sullivan, J. Browne; K. Hartnett, J. Gardiner, S. Óg O hAilpín (capt.); T. Kenny, J. O'Connor; B. O'Connor, N. McCarthy, N. Ronan; K. Murphy, E. Collins, J. Deane. Subs: R. McGregor for Hartnett (46th minute); K. Murphy (Erins Own) for K. Murphy (Sarsfields) and C. O'Connor for Browne (55th).

Referee: B. Gavin (Offaly).

Attendance: 3,794.

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