In front of a 4,324 Gaelic Grounds crowd on a dreary Saturday, Galway sparkled to win their second Clarke Cup in three years as they held out in a hugely entertaining affair.
They did so having led Cork by nine points on one
occasion and despite failing to score for the final 18 minutes of the game.
Ó Curraoin was a force throughout the 60-plus minutes and
behind him Mark Loughnane was terrific in keeping Cork at bay in the first half when, despite Cork’s dominance of possession, they trailed 0-9 to 0-5 at half-time.
As exciting as this game was, Galway led from start to
finish and some of their first half points were outrageously good, three of them pearls from a sharp Ian Burke.
Cathal Mulryan’s kicking was almost as good whereas Cork’s build-up play against the wind was relatively laborious
although a couple of Dan Mac Eoin points towards the end of the half settled them somewhat.
Cork had been superb in the third quarter against
Tipperary and Cavan and began the second half positively with two Brian Hurley points. But the gap had returned to four by the 37th minute before Damien Comer’s goal threatened to kill the game off as a contest.
On the back of it, Varley’s twin brother Paul and another defender David Cunnane pointed and Cork looked all at sea. With little foothold at midfield and no shape
to their half-back line, they were struggling badly.
Cunnane’s point turned out to be Galway’s last, though, and an Alan Cadogan point was followed by a wonderful Hurley goal as he fired past Thomas Healy. Points from sub Cathal
Vaughan and a Mac Eoin free reduced the margin to three by the 47th minute but the final 14 minutes of action were scoreless as Galway held their heads above the tide.
They may have gained a little fortune too with David Gough’s allocation of just one minute of injury-time but it was Alan Flynn’s team who were the more impressive.
Scorers for Cork: B Hurley (1f) 1-4; D MacEoin 0-3; D Cahalane (45), E Cadogan, J Wall, C Vaughan 0-1 each.
CORK: D Hanrahan (Douglas); C Dorman (Bishopstown), D Cahalane (Castlehaven), A Cronin (Nemo Rangers); B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), T Clancy (Clonakilty), J Wall (Kilbrittain); S Kiely (Ballincollig), I Maguire (St
Finbarr’s); A Cadogan (Douglas), J O’Rourke (Carbery Rgs), M Sugrue (Bandon); D MacEoin (Ilen Rovers), B Hurley (Castlehaven), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers).
Subs for Cork: J Burns (St Finbarr’s) for Kiely (36); C Vaughan (Iveleary) for Sugrue (39); TJ Brosnan (Newmarket) for Wall (43); K Hallisey (Eire Og) for Cadogan (57).
Referee: D Gough (Meath).