Galway remind public of their potential with Cork win
Michael Donoghue began his managerial reign with high-scoring win at Pearse Stadium
Niall Burke of Galway impressed in the win over Cork. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy/Inpho
These February hurling games in Salthill can be reduced to who makes better use of the inevitable wind. It was sunny and the flags whipped towards the sea and after 35 minutes under their new Michael Donoghue’s new regime, Galway had posted 1-15 and had enough sharp-shooters and energy to keep their noses comfortably in front for the second half. Cork registered a few fine scores and had some decent passages of play without ever giving the impression that they were maniacally hungry to win this match. They punctured the Galway fullback line just once, with a Seamus Harnedy goal - at the cost of a hamstring injury to the plundering full forward -but seemed content to trade point with their hosts through the second half of a match which was bore the palest resemblance to last summer’s fiery encounter between the two counties.
“I think it was just important to get back up and running and to get two points was a bonus,” was Donoghue’s summary.
“The boys’ attitude and application has been top class. I am not going to get carried away with the performance. We tired a bit in the second half and our shot selection has to improve going forward but look: happy for the first day. They are an honest bunch and we knew we would get a good performance. Look, it is early yet, only February and the first game of the league.”
This is it. We didn’t learn anything demonstrably knew from Galway here but they reminded the public of their potential: a powerful side with some blistering strike runners, serious collective firepower and out-and-out stylist in David Burke. They pleased the local crowd with some terrific distance shooting and, another trait of old, confounded by missing several glaring chances in the twelves wides they registered. This could have been a more emphatic win.
“More so in the first half we missed a few,” acknowledged Micheal Donoghue. “I think the second half was more tiredness.”
The work ethic remains intact, embodied by the busy Cathal Mannion and Padraig Brehony, who secured a wealth of possession for the home team around the middle third. The half-back line was so dominant that Anthony Nash had precious few options on the Cork puck-out. They struggled in the air and playing the ball short was a dangerous option as Galway’s forwards were hungry to close down channels.
The eleventh minute contained both silver lining and cloud for Cork. Harnedy was first to react to a breaking ball rained into the Galway square and deftly goaled to give the visitors a lead. But the full-forward was substituted with injury immediately afterwards and his ball-winning qualities were missed thereafter. Cork tried to isolate his replacement, Luke O’Farrell, and Patrick Horgan up front but couldn’t get much change out of Galway and had to resort to raining long ball towards James Skehill’s goal.
Galway’s 1-15 first half total would have been higher but for some laissez-faire striking under no real pressure. David Burke landed three sublime points from distance and Davy Glennon matched that, thriving in broken play. Conor Whelan was kept under tight wraps by Stephen McDonnell yet still set up two maroon points late in the half, when the Cork challenge had begun to waver. The Galway goal arrived in the 17th minute with Niall Burke collecting on the bounce a ball dropped into the Cork full back line and batting past Anthony Nash.
The score was 1-6 apiece after twenty minutes but after that, Galway sort of eased into the control room and led by 1-21 to 1-12 with twenty minutes remaining. Cork stayed in touch without really threatening to worry Galway as the half ticked on.
Davy Glennon retired injured with 0-4 from play after a hard-working hour: Galway were able to send in Jason Flynn as his replacement and a reminder of their depth. His most conspicuous involvement was to try and goal a fizzing ball from Joe Canning but he couldn’t connect: he was clearly inside the square so the score would have been cancelled. But the ball spilled out to Brehony, who tapped over a point. That score ended a minor Cork insurrection in the form of three unanswered points. Patrick Horgan registered 0-3 from play as well has his dead ball duties while Damien Cahalane, combative all afternoon, caught the wind with a good strike late in the day. Galway could soak up those: Cork needed a goal and just couldn’t figure a way through the maroon defence.
“Look that was the key thing for us...not to concede a goal and keep the cushion. I thought the lads defended well and there were a lot of tired bodies in the last ten or fifteen minutes.”
Galway visit Dublin on Saturday night relieved to have the new season up and running officially.
Galway: 1 J Skehill, 2 J Coen, 3 D Burke, 4 P Hoban; 5 P Mannion, 6 G Lally (0-1 free), 7 A Harte (0-1); 8 A Touhy, 9 D Burke (0-3); 10 P Brehony (0-2), 11 C Mannion (0-2); 12 N Burke (1-2), 13 C Whelan (0-3), 14 J Canning (0-9, 7 frees), 15 D Glennon (0-4).
Substitutes: G 20 D Collins for Touhy (half-time), G 23 J Flynn for Glennon (59 mins), 22 A Smith for A Harte (67 mins), 19 F Moore for Hoban (67 mins).
Cork: 1 A Nash (0-1 free), 2 S O’Neill, 3 C Joyce, 4 S McDonnell; 5 A Walsh, 6 W Egan, 7 D Cahalane (0-1); 8 C Murphy (0-1), 9 L McLoughlin (0-1); 10 B Cooper (0-2), 11 P O’Sullivan (0-2); 13 A Cadogan, 12 P Cronin; 14 S Harnedy (1-0), 15 P Horgan (0-9, 6 frees).
Substitutes: 23 L O’Farrell (0-1) for 14 S Harnedy (14 mins inj), 18 D Kearney for C Murphy (49 mins), C Lehane (0-1) for Cadogan (52 mins), C McCarthy (0-1) for P Cronin (59 mins), B Lawton for P O’Sullivan (59 min).
Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).