Canning points the way to final
Galway 0-22 Cork 0-17:An inspirational performance from Joe Canning steered Galway to their first All-Ireland senior hurling final since 2005. The Portumna clubman scored 11 points, half of Galway’s total which condemned Cork to a five-point defeat in front of a crowd of 41,537 at Croke Park this afternoon.
After an evenly contested first half, Galway dominated the second and the two man full-forward line of Canning and Damien Hayes contributed a total of 15 points to Galway’s overall tally. It meant that Anthony Cunningham’s team were able to see out the final few minutes in relative comfort.
Cork were the better team in the opening exchanges and by half-time all but one of their six starting forwards had scored but their tendency to concede frees in their own half allowed Galway to draw level on three separate occasions during the course of the first half.
Paudie O’Sullivan was Cork’s main threat and Patrick Horgan’s prowess from the dead ball allowed the Rebels to establish short-lived leads in the first half. Galway relied heavily on Canning’s accuracy in the early stages but on 34 minutes David Burke put Galway in front for the first time since the opening minute. Horgan pointed for Cork seconds later which meant that the sides were level at half-time on 11 points apiece.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy introduced Cathal Naughton at half-time as a replacement for Cian McCarthy but the Newtownshandrum clubman was kept largely quiet by a tight Galway defence. Indeed, perhaps the most pleasing aspect of Galway’s performance from manager Anthony Cunningham’s perspective will have been the performance of his defence. Fergal Moore, Tony Óg Regan and Johnny Coen all made timely defensive interventions in the second half and it forced Cork to try a more direct approach, a tactic that bore little fruit for the Rebels.
Two Canning points and another from Hayes put Galway into a three-point lead after 42 minutes. Cork emptied their bench but could not force any real goal opportunities and even when substitute Naughton reduced the arrears to two points on 58 minutes Galway were unperturbed.
Scores from James Regan, Andy Smith and Canning stretched Galway’s lead to four with just seconds remaining and when Damien Hayes pointed another in injury time, Galway’s place in the All-Ireland final was assured.