Galway 2-22 Cork 1-17
Full-back and captain Shane Kavanagh led by example as Galway won their first Allianz NHL Division 1 title since 2004, with a 2-22 to 1-17 victory over Cork at Semple Stadium.
The crowd may have been 3,000 less than last year's final attendance, but the 14,200 paying customers at the Thurles venue were treated to a thrilling game of Championship intensity, particularly in the first half.
It did not take long for the fireworks to ignite, with Damien Hayes bulging the back of the Cork net with just a minute and 15 seconds gone on the clock.
The Portumna clubman cut in from the right corner, rounding Sean Og O hAilpin before pushing his side into a 1-0 to 0-0 lead with an angled shot.
Both sides were clinical in front of the posts during a keenly-contested opening half with Ben O'Connor's impressive sideline cuts, allied to John Gardiner's excellent long range efforts, delighting the Rebels supporters.
A first Andy Smyth point edged Galway into a 1-3 to 0-4 lead after 16 minutes, following good work by Hayes and Ger Farragher; but Cork's creative juices were beginning to flow.
Scores from Michael Cussen and Gardiner ensured the sides were level for the first time after 18 minutes, but Galway quickly responded.
Farragher was immense for the Tribesmen throughout this contest as his quick brace of points edged Galway 1-5 to 0-6 in front.
But Cork, hoping to seal a football-hurling league double, bounced back with a superb kicked goal from Cathal Naughton, after Ben O'Connor had done the groundwork. The strike put Cork ahead for first time.
However, Cork's joy was shortlived. Joe Canning, one of the most dangerous forwards in the country, stepped up to the mark on a sunny evening at Semple.
The Portumna ace used his strength to firstly brush off corner back Brian Murphy'before rounding the inexperienced Eoin Dillon to fire a rasping shot past goalkeeper Donal Og Cusack.
With his first score of the game, the Galway full-forward certainly made his mark. Armed with a 2-5 to 1-6 buffer, John McIntyre's men would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of this game.
No more than three points seperated the sides over the next 12 minutes, before Farragher's fifth point of the final opened a four-point lead at the break at 2-12 to 1-11.
Joe Canning continued to prove his worth in the second half, landing a superb point within 30 seconds of the restart.
Despite Cork scoring three of the next four points, Galway proved to be top dogs in the second half, with Kavanagh and Ollie Canning starring in defence.
The Connacht side, winners of the Walsh Cup in February, hit three points in succession as Joe Canning, Smyth and Iarla Tannian added well-taken scores.
Pat Horgan, Kieran 'Fraggy' Murphy, Cathal Naughton and substitute Jerry O'Connor did their utmost to keep the Rebels in touch.
Galway could afford to strike 12 second half wides, while at the opposite end goalkeeper Colm Callanan produced some excellent saves.
He batted a stinging penalty effort from Horgan over the crossbar, and was assured under pressure from Cork's twin towers, Aisake O hAilpin and Michael Cussen.
Cork desperately needed a goal but they could not find a way past a stubborn and hard-working Galway defence, with substitute Joe Gantley firing over the insurance points for the new league champions.
After the game, GAA President Christy Cooney presented Galway skipper Kavanagh with the cup, which will give McIntyre's charges a serious boost heading into their Leinster Championship campaign.
GALWAY: C Callanan; D Joyce, S Kavanagh, O Canning; D Barry, T Og Regan, D Collins; G Farragher (0-6, 0-4f, 0-1 '65'), D Burke (0-1); A Harte (0-3), C Donnellan (0-1), A Smith (0-2); D Hayes (1-1), J Canning (1-5), I Tannian (0-1).
Subs used: J Gantley (0-2) for Tannian (52 mins), K Hynes for Smith (62); N Cahalan for Burke (68).
CORK: D Og Cusack; S O'Neill, E Dillon, B Murphy; J Gardiner (0-3, 0-1 '65'), R Curran (0-1), S Og O'hAilpin; T Kenny, L McLoughlin; M Cussen (0-2), K Murphy (0-2), C Naughton (1-1); B O'Connor (0-4, 0-2sl), A O'hAilpin, P Horgan (0-3, 0-1f).
Subs used: J O'Connor (0-1) for McLoughlin (48 mins), M Walsh for S Og O'hAilpin (49), P O'Sullivan for K Murphy (57).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).