DESPITE the fact that both sides had already qualified for either the quarter or semi-final of this year’s Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior championship, this final group game in Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon had a real feel of knockout to it.
It was a much better performance by Cork than seven days ago.
They looked faster, fitter, sharper and hungrier and they started the game with intent. A goal chance inside thirty five seconds presented a penalty.
Lovely ball control by Orla Cronin saw her deliver into Amy O’Connor and Sarah Dervan. The ball fell kindly, O’Connor gathered and was taken down.
Chloe Sigerson didn’t fully connect and Sarah Healy comfortably saved. But it was a good start by Cork.
Cork played deep from their half forward line, packing the middle third where the intention is to work the ball out of defence and deliver it fast into space to their inside forwards.
This forced Galway into a sweeper and Galway’s full back line were strong. Galway too played just two inside leaving Cork with their extra player around their own 45 with much of the tussles now in the middle of the park and many frees awarded.
The unusual looking free taking style of Carrie Dolan proved decisive for Galway as did the wonderful side-line skill of Rebecca Hennelly.
The importance of a good side-line cut is as important as a good free taker due to the fact that two points are awarded for such a skill in Camogie.
It’s rarely capitalised on but Rebecca’ Hennelly’s beautiful strike on twenty three minutes pushed Galway from a point down to two in front.
Chloe Sigerson was very close minutes later to matching Hennelly’s score. Hennelly then repeated the feat on twenty nine minutes.
Cork were far more direct in their play, Laura Hayes’ point on thirty three minutes optimising the space Cork can create.
Galway were double scores to the good at half time, 0-10 to 0-5, the margin not reflecting the closeness of the tie, the side-line scores being the major contributor.
Outside of impressive free taking and side-lines we had just three points from play in that opening period. Galway’s full back line of Shauna Healy, Sarah Dervan and Heather Cooney was hard to break down.
Amy Lee had worked on her quick puck outs and her delivery was good. Chloe Sigerson struck some long distance frees and along with Hannah Looney and Orla Cronin Cork had it down to two points after five minutes of the restart.
Hannah was making telling runs up the right wing with Ashling Thompson always supporting. While Cork looked to be making the runs it was Galway who pushed four ahead again after two good points from Aoife Donohue and Ailish O’Reilly.
Cork could feel somewhat aggrieved that Galway’s dropping of the hurley wasn’t penalised. We were now getting more from play, Linda Collins scoring a nice point on forty two.
Cork couldn’t quite bridge that four point gap against a hardworking in your face Galway side. Galway held it from the thirteenth minute until the twenty third before Niamh Kilkenny made it five. Orla Cronin pointed a free.
Galway’s physicality won key battles and their ability to get the important flick in denied some good Cork moves. Defensively Galway are excellent and they work the ball well, as did Cork who will need to find a way to avoid tight battles.
Cork will take a lot of positives from the game as they move forward to a quarter final with Clare next weekend.
Scorers for Cork: C Sigerson 0-3 (f), O Cronin 0-5 (0-4f), L Hayes, H Looney, P Mackey, L Collins 0-1 each.
Galway: R Hennelly 0-4 (sl), C Dolan 0-7 (f), O McGrath, A O’Donohue, A O’Reilly, N Kilkenny 0-1 each.
CORK: A Lee; M Cahalane, P Mackey, E Murphy; M Cahalane, L Treacy, L Hayes; C Sigerson, A Thompson; I O’Regan, O Cronin, K Mackey; L Collins, A O’Connor, C Healy.
Subs: F Keating for C Healy (38), N O’Callaghan for I O’Regan (48), S McCarthy for L Collins (56).
GALWAY: Sarah Healy; Shauna Healy, S Dervan, H Cooney; E Helebert, S Gardiner T Kenny; A Donohue, N Kilkenny; C Dolan, R Hennelly, N Hanniffy; S McGrath, A O’Reilly, O McGrath.
Subs: C Cormican for S McGrath (40), C Finnerty for R Hennelly (58), A M Starr for N Kilkenny (35).
Referee: John Dermody - Westmeath