Cork hurling fans left deflated after mistakes and wides crush their dreams 

Season ending on a crushing low for the Rebels at Thurles
Cork hurling fans left deflated after mistakes and wides crush their dreams 

Alan Connolly of Cork in action against Darren Morrisey of Galway at FBD Semple Stadium. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

THE atmosphere was building long before the ball was thrown in as crowds gathered in the Square and fans flowed into the ground at least an hour before throw-in.

All wanted to soak up the atmosphere as they anticipated a great day’s hurling and that sense of anticipation for the Rebels was killed within 30 seconds. Mistakes prove costly at this level and two in the first-half cost Cork and without them, we would have been in front at half-time.

Going in five points down must have felt strange to the Cork players. To be fair Galway did not deserve to be that far ahead and were only so due to Cork mistakes.

Sadly it was those mistakes and one or two questionable decisions by the ref that cost Cork in a game that took a long time to get going.

Considering they only lost by a point one would have to wonder how he thought the tackle on Seamus Harnedy was a fair shoulder. It should have been a free in, but instead, Galway worked the ball down the other end and pointed – a two-point swing.

But the majority of the damage was done in the first half and Cork were always chasing the game. Did Patrick Collins mean to drop the ball into the net, of course not, but it was a cruel blow and set the tone from the first exchange.

Their second goal came about from another Cork error, this time Sean O’Donoghue losing the flight of the ball as it dropped in the danger zone. But even at that Galway still weren’t the better side.

Overall the Cork defence was on top with Damien Cahalane leading by example. But sometimes luck is on your side and Galway certainly had it in that half. Three goal chances for the Rebels saved which on another day could have seen green flags being raised.

At half-time it almost felt like the game hadn’t started properly. Compared to the Munster final there was a lack of intensity and it needed something to happen to get it going. A few shoulders, a few skirmishes; something to get both sides and the crowd going.

The roar of 'Rebels, Rebels, Rebels' was lacking in a crowd that outnumbered their opponents by about four to one.

It started before the ref threw in the ball was thrown in or the restart when supporters saw that Patrick Horgan was on the pitch. The fans’ favourite lifted them and it soon lifted his team-mates as well as he was involved in the tussle for possession that led to Shane Kingston’s goal.

Shane Kingston takes on Daithí Burke and Jack Grealish. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Shane Kingston takes on Daithí Burke and Jack Grealish. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Now the Rebels started to play a bit like they did against Waterford in the group stages and started to put a bit of real pressure on the Galway defence.

But the Galway goals were proving costly and Cork were never able to draw level and when they came close, Galway managed to get a score to stay in front.

Alan Cadogan made a difference when he came on as did Hoggie and Millerick but others failed to have any impact.

Maybe Cadogan should have joined the play at half-time as well, who knows if it would have made a difference but his three points were more than several of the other starters put together.

The guile of Galway manager Henry Shefflin could be seen at times as they slowed down the play at every opportunity to stop Cork building a head of steam.

They even managed to fool the ref a number of times to get frees in their own defence that on at least two occasions should have gone the other way.

So it’s another year without an All-Ireland for Cork and sadly it may be the end of the road for some, at least they went down fighting and unfortunately two first-half mistakes and 12 wides proved costly in the end.

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