WHILE Cork have won all six All-Ireland senior hurling finals in which they have met Galway, recent history ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final is on the side of the Tribesmen.
Galway have been victorious in the counties’ last four senior championship meetings – 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Cork’s unbeaten run of 12 championship matches encompassing the three-in-a-row of 1976-78 and the Munster win of 1979 was bookended by All-Ireland semi-final losses to Galway in 1975 and 1979, while there was also defeat at the last-four stage in 1985.
In fact, if you take out the finals of 1986, 1990 and 2005, Cork have won just one of the last seven other championship clashes against Galway. That one was quite memorable, though, as Gerald McCarthy’s side came out on top of an event-filled clash.
Galway had beaten Antrim by 6-21 to 1-10 and Laois by 1-26 to 0-9, but this was Joe Canning’s first ‘real’ championship game. He would finish with 2-12 and the man of the match award, but incredibly that wasn’t enough for the Tribesmen in what proved to Ger Loughnane’s last match in charge.
On a sunny Saturday in Thurles, it was a game which had plenty in the way of drama and excitement, not least because it appeared that it wouldn’t go Cork’s way for much of the encounter. The Rebels had been knocked out of the Munster championship by Tipperary before seeing off Dublin unconvincingly in their first qualifier.
Cork had the game’s first four points but then Canning announced himself to the wider hurling world with an excellent goal where he showcased so many of his different talents. They were soon level and while John Gardiner put Cork 0-8 to 1-4 again, the game was about to turn.
A Galway attack looked to have ended with Alan Kerins netting, but referee Barry Kelly had blown his whistle a second earlier for a foul by Dónal Óg Cusack and, with the goalkeeper already booked, he was dismissed. Replacement Martin Coleman couldn’t do anything to keep out Canning’s drilled penalty and, after Canning and Ben O’Connor swapped frees, Galway led by 2-5 to 0-9 at half-time.
In the confusion after Cusack’s sending-off, it was Cathal Naughton called ashore to allow Coleman to come on but Naughton was back on the field for the second half, with Diarmuid O’Sullivan off and Gardiner now operating at full-back. Canning’s brother Ollie looked to be the perfect choice as Galway’s spare man but they couldn’t pull mpre than three points clear and Cork began to sense that the game was there for them if they wanted it.
Six successive points were reeled off by the men in red, with Joe Deane, O’Connor and Naughton all among the scores, and sub Patrick Horgan was unlucky to be denied a goal by James Skehill. Ben O’Connor’s 10th point of the day made it 0-18 to 2-9 for Cork as the Galway wides tally clicked to 13. Cork pushed five clear but Galway refused to throw in the towel. Niall Healy and Richie Murray both pointed, the latter going for goal, while Canning got three late points, but it was Cork’s day.
O’Connor had the final say to leave him with 12, 0-23 to 2-15 the final score, and the pitch invasion at the end showed what the win meant to the Cork fans.
B O’Connor 0-12 (0-10 f, 0-1 sideline), J Deane 0-4, C Naughton 0-3, J Gardiner 0-2 (0-1 f), N McCarthy, P Horgan 0-1 each.
J Canning 2-12 (0-6 f, 1-0 penalty, 0-1 sideline), R Murray, N Healy, D Hayes 0-1 each.
D Óg Cusack; S O’Neill, D O’Sullivan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, R Curran, S Óg Ó hAilpín; T Kenny, J O’Connor; P Cronin, N McCarthy, T McCarthy; B O’Connor, J Deane, C Naughton.
P Horgan for T McCarthy (34), M Coleman for Naughton (35), Naughton for O’Sullivan (half-time).
J Skehill; D Joyce, A Cullinane, O Canning; S Kavanagh, J Lee, D Forde; F Healy, R Murray; K Hayes, I Tannion, A Kerins; D Hayes, J Canning, N Healy.
C Dervan for Joyce (23), A Smith for K Hayes (44), A Callanan for Kerins (53), G Farragher for Hayes (61), C Donnellan for F Healy (65).