Category: Archive

GAA Roundup: Cork capture cup

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

No ifs, no buts and no “what might have beens,” then, as Cork powered to a second All Ireland hurling title in a row at Croke Park last weekend.
Having clearly absorbed all the lessons of defeat in 2003 as well as last year’s triumph, Cork lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup for the thirtieth time because they were the more experienced of the two teams. They took their points with the necessary composure when the opportunities arose, whereas Galway at times looked unsure whether they should go for goal or simply pop the ball over the bar.
Despite that indecision, it wasn’t as if Galway failed to make the game a contest. True, they were never in front, but three times during the second half they managed to cut the gap to a just a single point with their own intoxicating brand of quick-fire hurling.
Crucially, however, the goalfest that marked their sensational semi-final win over Kilkenny was absent as Cork’s defense proved much too alert and muscular. But with the county’s minors taking home the silverware in the curtain raiser, the future looks bright for Galway. In fact, it will be no great surprise if the McCarthy Cup is brought back across the river Shannon within the next two seasons.
If this final was fast, bright and breezy with any amount of end-to-end action for the attendance of just over 81,000, it was hardly vintage fare. There were too many mistakes for that, and in the end it was Cork who erred less than their opponents.
While the result meant much more than the performance to Cork, manager John Allen and his players can reflect with satisfaction that this was their most complete display of the summer. Both Brian Corcoran and Ronan Curran, who had been substituted in the semi-final, stepped up to the plate with highly impressive contributions over the 70 minutes.
Even though Corcoran uncharacteristically hit a couple of wides, he gave Tony Regan a difficult afternoon, hit two points from play and had an influential hand in three others. As for Curran, he quickly got to grips with the threat of David Forde who was himself called ashore with 10 minutes remaining.
The unassuming Allen, whose team became only the second in 17 years to win back-to-back titles, was understandably delighted with the outcome.
“We were certainly under the cost at various stages, but I don’t think we ever looked like losing. Even when Galway got their goal, we never allowed them to get in front. And for a young team like Galway, getting in front would have been a huge boost to their confidence.
“This was our best 70 minutes of the year. We were in the game the whole time, ahead the whole time, and I was very pleased that the fight was there in the players. For me as a sportsman, it’s my proudest moment ever.”
Allen had reason to be apprehensive when Damien Hayes scrambled in Galway’s goal in the 49th minute after Donal Cusack had acrobatically saved from Richie Murray, but if anything it was Cork who responded with more urgency following the score.
There only a point between the sides when Ger Farragher pointed three minutes later, however, Joe Deane, Jerry O’Connor and his twin Ben all quickly found the range as Cork finished the stronger.
Ben O’Connor’s outstanding personal total of 1-7 made him a deserving Man of the Match, but perversely Derek Hardiman who marked him also had a case with an excellent defensive display, while Alan Kerins was the pick of the Galway forwards.
When O’Connor fired in Cork’s goal in the 16th minute to open up a six-point gap, it seemed for a moment that Galway would be swamped, but to their credit, they settled and were only two adrift at the changeover.
“Cork had more experience of the big day from the past three years,” said Galway manager Conor Hayes, “and it took as a while to settle. It was probably one of the worrying factors that we had behind the scenes.
“This was our sixth championship game of the summer, and we’ve won five of them, that’s a new thing in Galway. Next year if we are in a similar situation, the lads will know what level they have to achieve to get into a final. And they now know the level it takes to win a final as well.”
Unlike when they shocked Kilkenny, Galway were unable to get the ball behind the Cork defense to Niall Healy and Farragher to create many goal-scoring chances. On the occasions they threatened, Diarmuid O’Sullivan and Cusack were more than up to challenge, although in fairness to the persistent Kerins, he got the better of John Gardiner before Sean Og O hAilpin took over the marking duties.
For O hAilpin, who now has six All Ireland medals across the three different grades, it was a special day as he collected the cup as captain. “Going to North Monastery, and ever since I started off in Na Piarsaigh, I was told that Croke Park, the steps of the Hogan Stand, that’s what you aspire to. I bought into that growing up on the northside of Cork, and I wanted to live that dream. Now it has come true.”

CORK: D Cusack; B Murphy, D O?Sullivan, P Mulcahy; J Gardiner (0-1), R Curran, S Og O hAilpin; T Kenny (0-3), J O?Connor (0-2); T McCarthy (0-2), N McCarthy (0-1), K Murphy; B O?Connor (1-7, two frees), B Corcoran (0-2), J Deane (0-3); Subs: N Ronan for K Murphy, 39 mins; K Murphy for N McCarthy, 63 mins.
GALWAY: L Donoghue; D Joyce, T Regan, O Canning; D Hardiman (0-1), S Kavanagh, D Collins; D Healy (0-2) D Tierney (0-1); R Murray, D Forde, A Kerins (0-3); G Farragher (0-8, six frees), N Healy (0-1), D Hayes (1-0) Subs: K Broderick for N Healy, 57 mins; K Hayes for Forde, 65 mins.
Referee: S Roche (Tipperary).

THERE was a small consolation for the Galway faithful at Croke Park as the county’s minors delivered a fourth All Ireland title in the last four years with a 3-13 to 0-17 victory over Limerick. Conor Kavanagh, Joe Canning and sub Tommy Flannery scored the winners? goal, while Eoin Ryan managed six points in reply for Limerick.

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