Cork 2-23 Galway 3-25
Despite leading by seven points early in the second half, Cork ended their Allianz HL Division 1 Group A campaign with a five-point defeat to Galway at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Having gone in at half-time ahead by 2-12 to 0-12, Cork extended their advantage on the resumption but Galway grew stronger as the half wore on and three goals for the visitors ensured they finished top of the league section. Cork began the day in third place and were top of the ‘live’ table for part of the game but ultimately finished fifth of the six teams.
Cork had a dream start as Patrick Horgan’s opening point after 30 seconds was followed by a goal, Horgan the supplier for a smart Conor Cahalane finish. Though Seán Loftus got Galway off the mark in the third minute, a nice score from Shane Kingston had it 1-2 to 0-1 for the hosts after five.
Thereafter, Galways began to gain more of a foothold though and, after a pointed free from their scorer-in-chief Evan Niland on 11, they were almost in for a goal as Conor Cooney found Niland but his shot from a tight angle was saved by Patrick Collins for a 65.
Niland converted that and Cork replied with two Patrick Horgan points, one a free and the other set up by a good diagonal pass from Darragh Fitzgibbon, but coming up to the water-break Galway reeled off three scores in a row.
Niland with two, one a free, and a fine Joseph Cooney point had them to within a point, 1-4 to 0-6, at the pause in action, but Cork improved again on the resumption – though not before Adrian Tuohey nearly had Joseph Cooney in for a goal chance, with Mark Coleman making a vital intervention.
While Galway did briefly draw level at 1-6 to 0-9 as Brian Concannon got his first point, the lead score was elusive and Cork gave themselves breathing space as Darragh Fitzgibbon and Mark Coleman landed long-range points and then Shane Kingston did well to set up Fitzgibbon for a second in the 27th minute, leaving them 1-9 to 0-9 in front.
Galway were to within two again as Conor Cooney landed a superb score from the right sideline in the 32nd minute, but Jack O’Connor ensured that the Rebels had a healthy advantage at half-time. First, he got his second point of the game following a good run after he won Collins’ puckout; then, he was alert enough to capitalise when Galway fluffed a short puckout, finishing well to leave it 2-12 to 0-12 at the interval.
While Horgan stretched the advantage to seven at the outset of the second half, Shane O’Neill’s side were right back in it thanks to a Conor Whelan goal from a Cathal Mannion pass and it was back to three points when Joseph Cooney got his third point of the day.
Frees from Horgan helped Cork to keep Galway at arm’s length but a Shane Kingston point was their only one from play in the third quarter. The introduction of David Burke into the Galway midfield allowed Cathal Mannion to move to centre-forward and he had an immediate impact with a pair of points. Immediately after the second of those, in the 51st minute, Galway had a levelling goal as Fintan Burke’s sideline was won by Brian Concannon, who fed Conor Cooney and his bouncing shot into the ground deceived Collins.
Straight after the water-break, they were in front for the first time thanks to Pádraic Mannion’s point but their momentum looked to have been quelled as Cork responded with three points on the trot, two from Horgan and one by Fitzgibbon.
Instead, Galway found an extra gear and moved back in front as Niland, Fintan Burke and Concannon scored. Darragh Fitzgibbon’s fourth point brought Cork level but Galway struck a decisive blow on 63 when David Burke set up Cathal Mannion for their third goal.