Allianz NHL Division 1 Final – Galway 2-22 Cork 1-17

Galway defeated Cork by 2-22 to 1-17 in the Allianz National Hurling League Division 1 Final on Sunday at Semple Stadium Thurles.

Galway shine brightest

Galway 2-22 Cork 1-17

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, May 03, 2010

IF this is a sign of things to come later in the summer, bring it on! What a match, what an exhibition of hurling in this National Hurling League Division One final in Thurles yesterday evening! In deference to what was happening in another field, in another code, 7pm was an unusual throw-in time for a big game, but it mattered not. Semple Stadium was bathed in sunshine as the two teams took the field and thus it remained throughout 70 magnificent minutes of hurling, dusk falling only after the final whistle. Toe to toe they went at it from the first minute, blow for blow, net-bursting goals at either end, superb point-taking in a first half that throbbed with an energy that left the 14,200 announced attendance breathless at the break.

By then Galway led 2-12 to 1-11 after playing into the slight breeze – with almost a score a minute in a contest of the highest quality. Surely, we thought, they can’t maintain this pace, not at this early stage of the season, and indeed the second period did see an easing in the scoring stakes; the intensity levels, however, remained high. Though it was the Galwegians applying most of the pressure in that second half, which saw them emerge eventually as comfortable and worthy winners, Cork too continued to play their part and never gave up the fight. A game, and a winning team, more than worthy of the occasion.

Galway had the opening score, in the second minute, and a thing of beauty it was; wing-forward Damien Hayes won possession deep in the right corner and was seemingly boxed out by Seán Óg O hAilpín. But with a sweet dummy, a step inside, and Damien was on his way towards the posts with only one thing on his mind. There was only one outcome – a goal, and he flung his hurley high into the air in joyous celebration. Cork, however, were soon on the board, one tower of the twins – Michael Cussen on the wing – proving his worth with two points, corner-forward Ben O’Connor adding to that with the first of his two sidelines from 45m (one from each wing), and the game was tied in the 18th minute, 1-3 to 0-6. Two points from the deadly-accurate Ger Farragher – both from long-range places balls – regained the lead for Galway, when Cork struck for a goal and again it was a beauty. Ben O’Connor released his Newtownshandrum clubmate Cathal Naughton for a run which ended with the tyro booting the ball to the net from distance, displaying the prowess that once had him on cross-channel soccer trials.

Instantly, however, Galway replied, as that young hurling genius Joe Canning announced his presence on the pitch, grabbing a high Donal Barry centre, rounding Eoin Dillon, and crashing to the net. Before the day was out Joe would add five points to that goal, and you had to feel for Dillon, thrown in at the deep end here after Eoin Cadogan’s injury. On this form no full-back in the country was going to hold the Portumna man and for a guy making his first start of this year, the newcomer did well to limit Joe to that 1-5. That goal put Galway in the driving seat again, and with their defence coping superbly with the Cork attack, keeper Colm Callanan in stunning form, Ger Farragher outstanding in midfield, the likes of Cyril Donnellan, Andy Smith and Aidan Harte all getting on the scoresheet, they extended the lead at the break to those four points. “That was the foundation for the win,” said Galway manager John McIntyre afterwards, and he was spot on.

The second half was again played at a great intensity, but after two points to increase their lead immediately after the restart (one each from Joe Canning and Aidan Harte) Galway held the whip hand from there to the finish and never allowed Cork closer than four. Cork had their chances, and Callanan was again called on a couple of times, not least to save a searing penalty shot from Patrick Horgan, but with Shane Kavanagh and Tony Óg Regan controlling the middle, Ger Farragher continuing to excel in midfield, sub Joe Gantley also making an impression up front, the westerners gradually pulled away. “Who knows, we might meet again later in the season,” said Kavanagh, on receiving the cup. Maybe, but on this evidence, Cork have some learning to do.

Scorers for Galway: J Canning 1-5; G Farragher 0-6 (0-4 frees, 0-1 65); D Hayes 1-1; A Harte 0-3; A Smith 0-2; J Gantley 0-2; I Tannian, D Burke, C Donnellan, 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: C Naughton 1-1; B O’Connor 0-4 (0-2 s/l); J Gardiner 0-3 (0-1 65); P Horgan 0-3 (0-1 pen); K Murphy 0-2; M Cussen 0-2; R Curran, J O’Connor, 0-1 each.

Subs for Galway: J Gantley (Tannian 53); K Hynes (Smith 62); A Callanan (Burke inj. 68).

Subs for Cork: M Walsh (Seán Óg O hAilpín 49); J O’Connor (McLoughlin 49); P O’Sullivan (K Murphy 58).

Referee: James Owens (Wexford)

Stylish Galway outgun Cork

By SEAN MORAN at Semple Stadium for the Irish Times newspaper

ALLIANZ NATIONAL HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION ONE FINAL/Galway 2-22 Cork 1-17: GALWAY’S NINTH National Hurling League title was delivered in style yesterday evening in Thurles after a comprehensive victory over a comprehensively out-gunned Cork. John McIntyre’s team unloaded an impressive barrage of score-taking while their defence stood firm against their opponents’ hitherto productive attack. After an Allianz NHL campaign during which they were the most consistent side, the final performance must have come as a disappointment to Cork manager Denis Walsh and the county supporters, all of whom must now train their thoughts and preparations on the end-of-the-month championship meeting with Tipperary.

Virtually all of the critical contests went Galway’s way. Even the anticipated pressure point of their half forwards against Cork’s most powerful line ended up tilting in the second half with Cyril Donnellan coming into the match at centre forward and both Aidan Harte and Andy Smith taking scores on the wings. Cork’s best player this season, John Gardiner, was his usual forceful self – and lucky in the first half not to get into trouble with the referee – but he couldn’t repel Galway single handed. Walsh’s gamble of playing the inexperienced Eoin Dillon on Joe Canning looked to be paying off after 20 fairly anonymous minutes from Galway’s principal shooter but in what seemed the blink of an eye, the full forward rattled off 1-2 in the space of little over six minutes leading up to the half-hour mark to change the match for good, as Cork never got back on terms afterwards. The pace of the contest was breathtaking at times, especially in the first half with scores flying over at either end, but Galway looked to be carrying more attacking menace from an early stage. The switching of Damien Hayes and Aidan Harte before the start quickly proved a shrewd move and paid dividends, with the Portumna forward punishing Seán Ó hAilpín with his pace from the start.

There weren’t two minutes on the clock when Hayes fastened on to a ball and out-ran his marker down the right, cutting inside to make an angle and firing into the net for the first score of the evening. A few minutes later he was again in possession and flashing over a point. The menace abated afterwards and eventually the right side of the Galway attack was restored to its original line-up. Ó hAilpín continued to struggle with his game, fumbling and miss-directing a couple of balls, but gradually came into the match and dropped a few inviting balls in on his brother Aisake at the other end.

He also set up Ben O’Connor for a run at the Galway defence in the 23rd minute. O’Connor passed to his speeding Newtownshandrum club-mate Cathal Naughton who continued in at pace and although appearing to disappear into the converging Galway cover, managed to get away a shot which ended up in the net. Almost immediately Canning went to work, taking a ball and rounding Dillon for a run on goal and decisive finish. Galway captain Shane Kavanagh, towered over as most full backs would be by the younger Ó hAilpín, was nonetheless effective in disrupting the possession and when one delivery did stick, he was able to block out the subsequent shot. In the second half, with Cork chasing the match frantically, the whole Galway defence held firm but Kavanagh radiated calm and focus from the centre and was named as the sponsors’ man of the match.

Cork’s decision to field both of their skyscraper forwards, Aisake Ó hAilpín and Michael Cussen, wasn’t a notable success. Cussen started well with early points but David Collins got on top and although the big forwards were shuttled around the attack, at no stage did they hit on an even mildly threatening configuration. The centrefield exchanges didn’t go Cork’s way either, as they failed to exert much pressure on the creative pairing of Ger Farragher and David Burke. Farragher was in the usual excellent form from the placed ball and hit five from six in his total of six points. Tom Kenny didn’t hit his familiar stride until towards the end, by which stage the match was loose and frenetic but Galway were thriving in the anarchy, raiding for points to keep the lead intact.

Cork had done well to stop the match getting away from them altogether in the first half and trailed by four at the break 1-11 to 2-12, but as soon as the match resumed Canning and Harte swept over another couple of points and Cork were chasing the match from there. They were offered a lifeline in the 40th minute but Patrick Horgan’s penalty, awarded after Gardiner had been taken down, was hit high and deflected over the bar by Colm Callanan, who also made a couple of good saves from Cathal Naughton, Cork’s most threatening forward. The counties went into the final, attended by 14,200, as the most likely sides to join Tipperary as feasible challengers to Kilkenny. Galway are still there but Cork have more convincing to do.

GALWAY: C Callanan; D Joyce, S Kavanagh, O Canning; D Barry, T Regan, D Collins; G Farragher (0-6, four frees, one 65), D Burke (0-1); D Hayes (1-1), C Donnellan (0-1), A Smith (0-2); A Harte (0-3), J Canning (1-5), I Tannian (0-1). Subs: J Gantley (0-2) for Tannian (53 mins), K Hynes for Smith (62 mins), A Callanan for Burke (68 mins).

CORK: D Cusack; S O’Neill, E Dillon, B Murphy; J Gardiner (0-3, one lineball), R Curran (0-1), S Ó hAilpín; T Kenny, L McLoughlin; M Cussen (0-2), K Murphy (0-2), C Naughton (1-1); B O’Connor (0-4, two lineballs), A Ó hAilpín, P Horgan (0-3, one penalty). Subs: J O’Connor (0-1) for McLoughlin (48 mins), M Walsh for S Ó hAilpín (49 mins), P O’Sullivan for Murphy (57 mins).

Referee: J Owens (Wexford)

Match Preview

Allianz GAA Hurling National League Final Previews

From the GAA.ie web site

Friday, April 30, 2010

It is a little surprising to note that having contested 31 Allianz GAA Hurling National League Finals between them today will be the first occasion that the paths of Cork and Galway have crossed in the decider.

Allianz GAA Hurling National League Division 1 Final

Semple Stadium, Thurles: Cork v Galway, 7.00pm

On two occasions they have met at the semi-final stage (most recently two years ago) and they have also met twice in quarter-finals, but this afternoon’s head-to-head at Semple Stadium will be their first on the ultimate stage. Considering that the Rebels and the Corribsiders have met on six occasions for the MacCarthy Cup since the National League’s inception in the mid Twenties, it does seem a little odd. Still, if their penultimate encounter two years ago is an indication of what we can expect, then those at Semple Stadium should be well sated. A certain Joe Canning made his debut that afternoon and 13 minutes in he opened his account for the Tribesmen. Ten minutes later the 19-year old set up Iarla Tannian for a goal before Ger Farragher lashed home a second from a 21-yard free. At the break Galway led by 14 points and a rout looked likely, but Cork staged a magnificent rally in the second half scoring 17 points. However, it wasn’t enough to overhaul Galway’s lead and they hung on for a 2-22 to 0-24 victory.

Ger Loughnane was effusive in his praise of Canning afterwards stating, “He is so calm. Before the game it was like he was going out to play a challenge match for Portumna”. The youngster himself played down the commotion surrounding his debut with his “I just take every match as it comes” comment. At least that match should be a more accurate barometer of what’s in store today than their head-to-head at Pearse Stadium a couple of weeks ago. Less than 1,000 spectators attended that encounter and with both safely qualified for the final, the intensity wasn’t at its highest. Cork raced into an early lead, but by the break the hosts led by a point. With 20 minutes remaining the sides were tied, but Galway’s kick for home brought little response from the visitors and the Corribsiders eventually won by seven points.

That was Cork’s only loss of the campaign (they did drop a point to Waterford) while it was Galway’s fourth successive win after their only blemish against Tipperary in Round 3. It is likely that both starting 15s will be substantially different than the teams that took the field at Salthill. It is a also worth noting that it is twelve years since Cork last took league honours with a win over Waterford, while Galway also defeated the Decies in their last final flourish in 2004. More recent final outings were less than rewarding for today’s protagonists with the Leesiders losing out to Kilkenny in 2002, while Tipperary edged out the Corribsiders twelve months ago. Both Cork (12 wins and 5 losses) and Galway (8 and 6) enjoy winning records in league finals and whatever the outcome this evening that statistic will not change. Twelve months ago Tipperary and Kilkenny produced an epic final that was only decided after extra time. Cork and Galway are capable of providing a repeat performance.