Cork led all through as Galway were seen off at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Saturday night’s Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A clash.
It was a game with a shadow over it due to the sudden death of Galway manager Henry Shefflin’s brother Paul and that contributed to a lack of top-level intensity, but Cork can be pleased with how things went.
After the win over Limerick last week, it was important that Cork didn’t suffer from a case of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’. While this game lacked the bite of the encounter in the Gaelic Grounds and was more open from the off, that the Rebels again came out on the right side of the result was encouraging for a number of reasons.
First of all, it was the first time since 2005 that the county put together four consecutive league wins, which is a sign of growing consistency; given that Galway blitzed Cork with a late fightback last June, it was good to bounce back from that; and it ensures that there is a semi-final place sewn up before the last match against Wexford.
To what extent Cork want to win the league is a matter to debate, of course – claiming a national title is welcome, but the final takes place a fortnight before the Munster SHC opener against Limerick.
That much will become clear in the coming weeks but the bottom line was that Cork, having made changes in personnel, won again and demonstrated the growing depth within the panel. Daire O’Leary, given his start last week, again did very well in the full-back line while Séamus Harnedy, recalled to the first team, scored four points. Shane Barrett showed up well at centre-forward while it says so much about Patrick Horgan’s contributions over the years that 1-13 from him is not considered remarkable. And, while he may not have been prominent in a domineering way, Damien Cahalane limited Cathal Mannion – the game-changer the last time Galway came to Cork – to just a point.
His goal in the 27th minute was ultimately the cushion that ensured Cork never looked like being overhauled in the second half. Pleasingly, it came from a self-generated turnover on Galway full-back Daithí Burke, with the finish calmly applied. Horgan’s third point in the 14th minute also came from what had been a Galway possession and Cork were that bit sharper in the opening half, understandably so given the circumstances.
Horgan’s sixth of the evening made it 1-13 to 0-9 as injury time dawned, with Robbie O’Flynn showing up well too. The goal had made it 1-8 to 0-7 – Darragh Fitzgibbon was denied by Éanna Murphy early in the game – and though Conor Cooney immediately replied with a Galway free, Cork had eased clear through Horgan, Mark Coleman and Barrett.
Cooney and Gavin Lee were on target to leave five in it at half-time, 1-13 to 0-11, and a long Cooney free cut the gap on the resumption but Cork never panicked. Three in four minutes from Horgan (two) and Coleman made it 1-20 to 0-16 by the 54th minute and sub Seán Twomey might have added a goal, with Murphy saving from him. Galway, who had Ronan Glennon and Tom Monaghan in good form, did come back to within four again by the hour mark, but Cork always had enough. Fitzgibbon and two Horgan frees pushed them seven in front again and they won by six.
Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 1-13 (0-10f, 0-1 65), S Harnedy 0-4, M Coleman, R O’Flynn, S Barrett 0-2 each, T O’Mahony, D Fitzgibbon, G Millerick 0-1 each.
Galway: C Cooney 0-6f, R Glennon 0-5, T Monaghan 0-4, G Lee, J Cooney 0-2 each, C Mannion, C Whelan, J Hastings, T Killeen 0-1 each.
CORK: P Collins; D Cahalane, D O’Leary, S O’Donoghue; T O’Mahony, M Coleman, R Downey; D Fitzgibbon, G Millerick; R O’Flynn, S Barrett, J O’Connor; P Horgan, A Connolly, S Harnedy.
Subs: C Lehane for O’Connor (44), S Twomey for Connolly (49), L Meade for Downey (53), C Cahalane for Barrett (62), B Roche for Harnedy (70).
GALWAY: É Murphy; J Grealish, D Burke, A Tuohy; T Killeen, P Mannion, F Burke; J Coen, R Glennon; T Monaghan, C Cooney, J Hastings; C Mannion, C Whelan, G Lee.
Subs: J Cooney for Hastings (43), D Morrissey for Tuohy (45), S Loftus for Coen (57), K Cooney for Lee (67), G Thomas for Monaghan (70).
Referee: T Walsh (Waterford).