By Stephen Barry
Galway clinched the All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling Championship tonight, piling more misery on Cork in the process.
Anthony Cunningham once again was the man to spoil Cork’s hopes, as his second-string side, captained by James Skehill, ran out comprehensive winners.
Although without Senior debutant Conor Whelan from the Leinster winning team, in Dan Nevin they had a readymade replacement.
Galway shot out of the blocks, with Nevin picking off three points inside 9 minutes, ably assisted by Eanna Burke.
Galway had the look of an typical Cunningham side, with a robust defence and distance shooting helping them to a six points to two lead at that stage.
Galway were bringing the heat but Cork slowly began to acclimatise, with Michael Collins acting as a sweeper.
Fintan O’Leary and Willie Leahy combined down the left flank for three scores as Galway’s shooting began to cool, spraying four consecutive wides, including two missed frees.
Galway appeared to have weathered the storm with points from Tadhg Haran and Nevin restoring the lead to three, but Cork scored four of the final five points in the half, with braces from the excellent Leahy and Noel McNamara making it a tie at the break, 0-9 apiece.
Cork, however, couldn’t muster the encouragement of a lead, as Galway rebuilt their advantage.
Kevin McHugo led the way with a pair, as Galway moved 0-15 to 0-12 ahead.
Five points in a row from Haran, Eamon Brannigan, Shane Moloney (2) and Nevin effectively sealed the deal for Galway, before Jason Kennedy embellished the final scoreline with two late scores.
Teams and scorers
T Haran (4fs, 1s/l), D Nevin (0-5 each), D Higgins (0-3), K McHugo, E Burke, S Moloney, E Brannigan, J Kennedy (0-2 each).
N McNamara (0-4fs), T Murphy (2fs), W Leahy, F O’Leary (0-3 each), K O’Neill (0-1).
J Skehill (Cappataggle); C Flynn (Tommy Larkin's), D O’Donoghue (Kilnadeema-Leitrim), A Tuohy (Beagh); P Flaherty (Abbeyknockmoy), D Burke (St Thomas’s), S Cooney (St Thomas’s); K McHugo (Tommy Larkin's), D Higgins (Castlegar); D Nevin (Cappataggle), T Haran (Liam Mellows), E Burke (St Thomas’s); B Molloy (Kilnadeema-Leitrim), S Maloney (Tynagh-Abbey/Duniry), E Brannigan (Rahoon-Newcastle).
B Daly (Clarinbridge) for Brannigan (17-20, blood), Barry Keane (Clarinbridge) for O’Donoghue (h-t), J Kennedy (Ardrahan) for E Burke (48), B Daly for McHugo (53), R O’Meara (Portumna) for Brannigan (55), K Lane (Ballindereen) for Higgins (59).
P Buckley (Mallow); G Murphy (Newcestown), T Lawerence (Brian Dillons), B Ó Tuama (Castlemartyr); M Collins (Ballinhassig); E Finn (Ballinhassig), D O’Donovan (Ballinhassig), K Kavanagh (Carrigaline); K O’Neill (Watergrasshill), S McCarthy (Ballinhassig); F O’Leary (Ballinhassig), T Murphy (Carrigaline),W Leahy (Aghada); N McNamara (Kilworth), D O’Driscoll (Carrigtwohill).
P Butler (Argideen Rangers) for Finn (h-t), M Brennan (Fermoy) for McCarthy (45), L Meade (Newcestown) for McNamara (46), C O’Brien (St Ita’s) for G Murphy (52), A Cagney (Charleville) for T Murphy (53).
Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).