In a splendid contest, the scoring exploits of corner forward Karl Wade were crucial, the Sarsfields youngster finishing with 1-9.
If Wade was Galway’s top forward, John Lee and Gerard Mahon were the bedrock of their defence. Cork found it almost impossible to break down the Galway rearguard as these two players, playing in their second semi-final, hurled defiantly throughout.
Cork never quite get into the game, playing only in patches. They struggled in most sectors of the field, and when they did have Galway on the run for about 10 minutes in the second-half, reducing a three goal deficit to one, they lacked the killer instinct around the Galway square.
Ger O’Driscoll and team captain Shane O’Neill were the best of the backs, while Patrick Cronin and Kevin Canty were the only forwards who posed any real threat to the Galway defence.
Galway led 0-3 to 0-1 after seven minutes, Karl Wade scoring two of those scores from frees.
Both defences started well with Shane O’Neill particularly prominent for Cork at centre-back and Gerard Mahon equally so for Galway at full-back, with the result that scores were slow in coming.
The sides were level three times in the opening quarter at the end of which they were still tied at 0-4 apiece. The one real goal chance fell to Galway’s Joe Canning but Cork ’keeper Ken O’Halloran saved well at the foot of his post. However, O’Halloran was given no chance in the 21st minute by Canning who drilled the sliotar home from 13 metres after the Cork net-minder parried Kevin Coen’s piledriver out to him.
Galway were well on top at this juncture and when Karl Wade added a point, it opened up a five point lead. Galway were full value for their 1-8 to 0-7 half time lead.
Cork resumed the second-half with a couple of positional switches but it was Galway who continued to dictate matters, and when Karl Wade raced away before striking home a great goal, Cork were clearly in trouble.
To be fair to them they didn't enjoy much luck around the Galway goal and Patrick Cronin was only the thickness of the crossbar away from a goal after he flicked on Kevin Canty’s delivery, but his effort came back of the timber.
Throwing caution to the wind, the selectors made three substitutions in quick succession and they had the desired effect. In the space of a great five minute spell, Cathal Naughton rattled home a goal and two points quickly followed, and from a position of almost invincibility, Galway began to struggle as their nine point lead was reduced to three.
However, Galway weathered the Cork recovery superbly and a Barry Hanley point eased the pressure before Vincent Coone landed the insurance point to set up a repeat of last year’s final with Kilkenny in a month’s time.
: Galway: K. Wade 1-9 (0-6 frees); J. Canning 1-1; B. Hanley, V. Coone 0-2 each; E. Collins 0-1. Cork: P. Cronin 0-7 (0-5 frees); C. Naughton 1-2; E. Murphy, G. O’Leary, K. Canty, S. O’Neill (free) 0-1 each.
: M. Herlihy; P. Loughnane, G. Mahon, C. O'Donovan; M. Ryan, J. Lee, K. Kilkenny; A. Carey, D. Kennedy; K. Coen, K. Hynes, V. Coone; J. Canning, K. Wade, B. Hanley. Subs: E. Collins for Coen; K. Walsh for Ryan; B. Murphy for Kennedy.
: K. O’Halloran; G. O’Driscoll, N. Horgan, M. McCarthy; E. Cadogan, S. O’Neill, B. Coleman; R. Conway, G. O’Leary; P. Cronin, E. Murphy, C. Naughton; P. O’Brien, K. Canty, B. Ring. Subs: M. Walsh for McCarthy; C. Keane for Conway; P. Horgan for Murphy; F. O’Leary for O'Brien.
: B. Gavin (Offaly).