For an opening match in NHL Division 1A, this contest had more of a challenge match feel to it at times, Galway hitting points at will and racking up a dozen wides as well. Cork never got to grips with their opponents and failed to challenge them physically, giving best in practically every corner of the field. A winning margin of six points didn’t flatter Galway, who might have run out with a double-digit victory.
After Cork’s early flourish, a dominant half-back line and busy midfield kept the men in maroon on top for most of the first-half, backed by the wind, and but for some wayward shooting they might have had more than six points to spare at the break.
Perennial danger-man Joe Canning showed some nice touches at full-forward, but it was the man alongside him, Davy Glennon, who tormented the Cork rearguard in that half, helping himself to three points from play and linking well with the half- forwards outside him.
Cork could count themselves lucky with the first-half goal that kept Galway in their sights. On 10 minutes, a Cormac Murphy delivery was broken near the square by Patrick Horgan and Seamus Harnedy was on hand to collect and goal, but the St. Ita’s man had to be substituted immediately afterwards through injury.
Galway hit back with two points in two minutes, from David Burke and Glennon, and then had a goal of their own — Joe Canning knocked a long delivery into the path of Niall Burke, who drove forward before finishing neatly past Anthony Nash to make it 1-6 to 1-4 in favour of Galway.
Though Cork responded with points from Bill Cooper and Paudie O’Sullivan, Galway struck five on the bounce to take firm control. Cork surged back through Patrick Horgan (two frees) and Alan Cadogan, but Galway hit the last three of the half, going in 1-15 to 1-9 ahead.
The visitors bounced back with three points in a row from Horgan on the resumption, two of them frees, before Canning chipped in with a Galway point. Cathal Mannion, Padraig Brehony and Conor Whelan hit three more points and Galway were seven up on the 45th minute — advantage restored.
Though Cork were able to find the range after that, primarily through Horgan, Galway were able to respond in kind, maintaining their lead at their ease. It was a surprise Cork were only five adrift going into the last 10 minutes, though Galway’s wastefulness in front of goal was partly responsible — take sub Jason Flynn’s late miss when the goal gaped in front of him, which would have ended the game as a contest.
Late Whelan and Brehony points made it safe for Galway, with Canning providing the flourish with a closing brace.
Galway can be happy with their opening game, particularly after the upheaval which saw last year’s manager Anthony Cunningham depart. His replacement, Micheal Donoghue, was quick to point out next week’s opponents, Dublin, beat Galway by nine points in the Walsh Cup recently, but the Tribesmen have made a good start to a league which, given there are only five games to play, is always tight in terms of relegation.
For Cork, yesterday carried unhappy echoes of last year’s demolition job in Thurles by a Galway side which overwhelmed them. Granted the Leesiders were without Mark Ellis yesterday, and lost combative forward Seamus Harnedy before the end of the first quarter, but for manager Kieran Kingston and his selectors the lack of a physical challenge from their charges will surely have occupied them on their long bus journey home last night.
J. Canning (0-7 frees, 0-9); N. Burke (1-2); D. Glennon (0-4); D. Burke, C. Whelan (0-3 each); P. Brehony, C. Mannion (0-2 each); G. Lally (free), A. Harte (0-1 each).
P. Horgan (0-5 frees 0-8); S. Harnedy (1-0); P. O’Sullivan, B. Cooper (0-2 each); A. Cadogan, P. Cronin, L. McLoughlin, C. Murphy, A. Nash (free), C. McCarthy, L. O’Farrell, D. Cahalane and C. Lehane (0-1 each).
J. Skehill, J. Coen, J. Hanbury, P. Hoban, P. Mannion, G. Lally, A. Harte, A. Tuohy, D. Burke ( c), P. Brehony, C. Mannion, N. Burke, C. Whelan, J. Canning, D. Glennon.
D. Collins for Tuohy (HT); J. Flynn for Glennon (55); A. Smith for Harte and F. Moore for Hoban (66).
A. Nash, S. O’Neill, C. Joyce, S. McDonnell (c), A. Walsh, W. Egan, D. Cahalane, C. Murphy, L. McLoughlin, B. Cooper, P. O’Sullivan, P. Cronin, A. Cadogan, S. Harnedy, P. Horgan.
D. Kearney for Murphy (48); C. Lehane for A. Cadogan (50); C. McCarthy for Cronin and B. Lawton for O’Sullivan (58).
B. Kelly (Westmeath).