Cork withstand late Galway rally
Although they were slow enough to settle and had to withstand a late rally by Galway, Cork enjoyed an edge for most of a lively and entertaining All-Ireland inter-county Vocational Schools hurling final which attracted a fair-sized crowd to Carrigoon in Mallow last Saturday.
Just the bare minimum separated the sides in the end, and the Rebels were very relieved that Galway's impressive midfielder Eoin Forde failed to convert a long-range free with virtually the last puck of the match.
With seven minutes of normal time remaining, Cork appeared to be bang on course for a fourth consecutive title after centre back Aidan Walsh, taking a pass from wing back Michael Desmond, slotted over an inspirational score from distance. That pushed them four points ahead, and such was their dominance in defence where Walsh, Desmond and Tom Harrington were especially effective in the half back line, and Brendan Holland was rock-solid at full back, that they looked odds-on to prevail.
Four minutes later, however, Galway's hopes were rekindled when a speculative delivery from David Glennon went all the way to the net. An equalising point soon followed from centre forward John Cannon to set the scene for a gripping conclusion, but again Cork seemed to have moved into an unassailable position when wing forward Jason McCarthy rifled in a great goal to make it 2-14 to 2-10 two minutes into stoppage time.
The drama and excitement didn't end there, however, as gutsy Galway replied almost immediately with a goal from Donal Fox, and they went tantalisingly close to forcing extra-time, with Eoin Forde's last-gasp effort from a free just dropping short. Aidan Walsh made a great catch to avert the danger, and his clearance was followed by the final whistle.
It was much too close for comfort for the Leeside students, but there could be no disputing that they were worthy winners on the overall run of the play. The fact is that they would never have been forced to endure any anxiety in the closing stages had not Galway's challenge been revitalised by the aforementioned goal from David Glennon.
Galway's first goal was also of the soft variety, with an innocuous-looking lob by midfielder Donal Fox, which may have taken a deflection off the stick of a Cork defender, squeezing inside the posts in the sixth minute. That made it 1-1 to 0-1, and, with Fox and especially Eoin Forde to the fore at midfield, Galway managed to force the pace for much of the opening quarter.
Significantly, however, they failed to notch another score from play in the first half after wing forward David Glennon stretched their advantage to four points in the eighth minute.
That was testimony to the steadiness of the Cork rearguard in which full back Holland was well-supported by his flankers Gary Twomey and Ciaran Walsh, and half backs Harrington, Aidan Walsh and Desmond all hurled strongly.
Due in the main to the sterling resistance from Galway's central defenders Ronan Burke and Cathal Greaney, Cork found openings difficult to come by as well, but their attack looked a bit more threatening at the same time.
Jason McCarthy and Roy Payne showed definite promise on the left flank, while Eoin Kelly also had his moments in the right corner, but it wasn't until Lorcan McLoughlin thundered into the picture at midfield that things really began to shape up well for Cork.
After points by McCarthy, Payne, from a sideline cut, and McLoughlin trimmed Galway's lead to the minimum, Cork were denied a goal when a shot from Eoin Kelly was saved on the line by full back Ronan Burke in the 22nd minute.
Eoin Forde replied with a Galway point from a free, but McLoughlin turned on the style to trigger off a Cork purple-patch before half-time. Latching on to a Tom Harrington clearance, McLoughlin popped over a fine score which - preceded by a Roy Payne point resulting from good work by Jason McCarthy and Aidan Walsh - brought Cork back on terms by the 27th minute.
McLoughlin won a free which he converted himself to give Cork the lead for the first time two minutes later before quickly instigating a slick raid involving Eoin Kelly and Jason McCarthy and completed by a goal from Roy Payne.
Turning over 1-7 to 1-4 to the good, Cork remained in the driving seat on the resumption. With Payne scoring a superb individual point, McLoughlin, who continued to sparkle at midfield, chipping in with two more and setting up McCarthy for another, they led by 1-11 to 1-7 at the three-quarter stage. McLoughlin, unquestionably the man-of-the-match, had a willing and able accomplice in team skipper Maurice Sexton at midfield in the second half.
In fairness, Eoin Forde and, to a lesser extent, David Glennon, who was moved out from wing forward for the last quarter, kept the Galway flag flying in this sector, and, along with defenders Ronan Burke, Cathal Greaney and Brian Gardiner, they did most to ensure that the challengers weren't overwhelmed.
In view of their limitations in attack, however, Galway were clearly in trouble after an Aidan Walsh point enabled Cork to lead by 1-12 to 1-8 approaching the last five minutes. After David Glennon's goal put the issue back in the melting-pot, a brace of points from Eoin Kelly, the first from a free after he was fouled himself, helped to steady the Cork ship before Jason McCarthy, sent through by a neat pass from wing forward Daniel Twomey, lashed home what appeared to be the clinching goal deep in stoppage time.
But a lapse in concentration almost cost Cork dearly, allowing Donal Fox, now operating on the 40, to throw Galway a lifeline, and the holders were ultimately hard-pressed to complete a prestigious four-timer.
Scorers - Cork: R. Payne 1-3, 0-1 sideline, L. McLoughlin 0-5, 0-1 free, J. McCarthy 1-2, E. Kelly 0-3, 0-2 frees, A. Walsh 0-1. Galway: D. Fox 2-1, D. Glennon 1-2, E. Forde 0-3, 0-2 frees, R. Badger 0-3, 0-2 frees, J. Cannon 0-1.
Cork: R. Hayes (St. Brogan's, Bandon and Kilbrittain), G. Twomey (St. Brogan's and St. Mary's), B. Holland (Kinsale CS and Ballinhassig), C. Walsh (St. Brogan's and Kilbrittain) ), T. Harrington (St. Brogan's and Kilbrittain), A. Walsh (Coláiste Treasa and Kanturk), M. Desmond (Kinsale CS and Ballinhassig), L. McLoughlin (Coláiste Treasa and Kanturk), M. Sexton (St. Brogan's and Kilbrittain), D. Twomey (St. Brogan's and Newcestown), S. Howard (St. Peter's, Passage and Passage), J. McCarthy (St. Brogan's and Bandon), E. Kelly (St. Brogan's and Newcestown), J. Crowley (St. Brogan's and Valley Rovers), R. Payne (St. Brogan's and Bandon). Subs: L. Daly (Coláiste Treasa and Kilbrin) for Crowley, M. Ellis (Millstreet CS and Millstreet), S. O'Riordan (Coláiste Treasa and Meelin) for C. Walsh.
Galway: C. Finnegan, T. Broderick, R. Burke, D. Skehill, D. Burke, C. Greaney, B. Gardiner, D. Fox, E. Forde, D. Glennon, J. Cannon, O. Ó Ceallaigh, B. Burke, J. Coen, R. Badger. Subs: D. Burke for O'Ceallaigh, M. Keating for Cannon.
Referee: N. Cosgrove, Tipperary.
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