Cork: Cusack; McDonnell; Cadogan; C. O’Sullivan; Gardiner (0-3 65s); Egan; Ryan (B. Murphy); J. O’Connor (0-1; McLoughlin); Cronin (0-1); Kenny (Naughton, 0-2); C. McCarthy (0-3); N. McCarthy (0-2); O’Farrell (0-1, K. Murphy); P. O’Sullivan (0-3); Horgan (1-4; 1-0 p; 0-4 f)
Galway: Grealish; Collins; Lee; O’Halloran; Hayes (Donnellan); Og Regan; Cullinan; Burke (0-4; 0-2f); Barry; Ryan (0-1; Gantley 0-2); Smith (0-1); Farragher (0-7; 0-6f; Cahalan); Callanan (1-2); Tannion; Coen.
Cork put in another decent performance to overcome a game but depleted Galway side by three points. Rather like the Kilkenny game it was an encouraging but flawed performance – signs of heart and individual ability were again evident, but once again a larger game plan when in possession seems too clearly to be missing. Once again our younger players performed well – McDonnell seems to improve slightly game to game, which is exactly what one hopes for, and was stronger and more comfortable on the ball then in previous outings. Egan picked up and cleared some nice ball while his man Andy Smith had little impact on the game, although a center-back still needs to dominate and stamp his authority on the game in a way Egan didn’t. O’Farrell still doesn’t seem to have regained his pace and looked rusty but nonetheless showed well for the ball, gave some nice passes and scored an eye-catching point in the first half. Cian McCarthy was excellent, winning numerous balls in the air, running Og Regan into to the ground and scoring numerous points from play. Lorcan McLoughlin was particularly excellent when he came on, breaking numerous tackles and moving the ball on nicely. Deserves a start alongside Cronin for the Waterford match. Not spectacular stuff from the youngsters on the team, but promising all the same.
There was numerous other decent individual performances. Cronin did very well in midfield, playing a lot of ball and showing considerable mobility and fitness. More importantly, he offered a very effective option for puck-outs when he made runs wide into space. Padraig O’Sullivan worked very hard as usual, was a willing runner all day and again scored some lovely points. Niall McCarthy and John Gardiner were their usual hard-working and effective selves while Donal Og’s puck-outs were largely unerring, although the other main veteran in the team Jerry O’Connor somewhat struggled to make an impact on the match besides a nicely made point at the beginning of the second half. Kenny was disapointing poor and completely ineffective. Cadogan and Ryan were mixed – the former lost track of his man numerous times at the start of the game, and a Joe Canning or Richie Power type player would have buried the chances given to Iarla Tannion, but Cadogan was solid for most of the game. Ryan played a lot of ball but still has a habit of making clumsy passes in possession and showed some lazy marking in the lead-up to the Galway goal.
To be fair, its wrong to say the Cork management isnt trying to put a gameplan in place – its obvious we are working off the premise of as much quick ball as possible to the front of the full-forward line, but there is still too much errant passing and slow movement even for this time of the year for it to be effective. As such, this was another Cork team performance most notable for hard work and graft rather then style and purpose of play.
Regarding Galway, they did the best one could expect considering their many injury problems. They do genuinely seem to have some squad depth – O’Halloran was excellent at corner-back while Burke was very lively and energetic in midfield. Callanan likewise was clinical in the corner and rarely spurned a chance while Gantley was effective when he came on. At the same time, Og Regan struggled badly in dealing with the mobility and energy of Cian McCarthy while Iarla Tannion must be infuriating, often showing lovely touches only to clumsily spurn scoring opportunities. Considering the players they are missing however they seem to have the fundamentals – hard-work, athleticism, discipline and fitness – down well and should be a force come championship.