Cork: K. O’Halloran; R. Carey; E. Cadogan; M. Shields; N. O’Leary; P. Kissane; D. O’Sullivan (S. Kiely, 0-2); A. O’Connor (0-1); N. Murphy (J. Fitzpatrick, 0-1); F. Goold (0-2); P.Kelly (0-2, 0-1f; C. O’Driscoll); P. O’Neill (K. O’Driscoll 0-1); D. Goulding (0-7, 0-4f); C. O’Neill (D. Goold); F. Lynch.
Galway: A. Faherty (0-1f); A. Burke; C. Forde; J. Duane; G. Higgins; G. Sice; G. O’Donnell; F. Hanley (0-1); J. Bergin; C. Bane (0-5, 0-2f; O. Concannon (0-1); C. Kenny; F. Breathnach (0-1; D. Blake); P. Conroy (0-2; J. Ryan); M. Clancy (0-2).
Cork struggled past a mediocre Galway side on Sunday in fine conditions in Pearse Stadium. It was a patchy performance by a Cork team that was, to be fair depleted with a very inexperienced bench. Best by far for Cork was Noel O’Leary, who worked tirelessly and drove Cork on from half-back throughout, until his effort was particularly felt in the second half. Patrick Kelly suprisingly struggled a bit in the first half on the tigerish Gary Sice but slowly began to control the game in the second half, making a number of important passes. Daniel Goulding was again, practically unmarkable and scored some gorgeous points from play in the first half off both feet (although his free-taking wasn’t as clinical as usual). Finally, both Paudie Kissane and Eoin Cadogan worked hard defensively, the former often driving forward and the latter adding his typical physical edge to the game. In the debit column Nicolas Murphy completely failed to do anything at midfield, and increasingly looks like a player who’s body simply isn’t willing to go on. Denis O’Sullivan struggled to deal with Cormac Bane, struggled to deal with the the physicality of the opposition and was too often errant in possession. both players were subbed at half-time.
Again, and like the Down game, what was most impressive was our strength in depth and the young talent coming through. At half-time one worried if Cork would actually win the game as Galway had created a grip on midfield and dominated the second part of the first half, particularly with the inability of Cork to spring Aidan Walsh from the bench like we had done against Down. Thankfully, James Fitzpatrick came on at midfield at half-time and offered more energy, superior link-up play and even a point from play. Similarly Sean Kiely was excellent, moving forward well and grabbing two excellent points from play. Fiachra Lynch started the game for Donnacha O’Connor at corner back and at the very least showed for the ball very well and showed some spark in possession even if he struggles to make an end product.
Regarding Galway, they tried hard but too often looked rather clueless and structureless in possession. Up forward they showed considerable individual spark with Bane, Conroy and Clancy giving the Cork defence a difficult time in the first half, while Bergin and Hanley began to dominate midfield as the first half moved on giving Galway their only purple match of the game. Elsewhere Sice was largely excellent although his grip on Kelly weakened as the game went on – the inside backs struggled to deal with the movement and pace of Goulding in particular and were too often turned. More problematically, there was a lack of structure of the way Galway played, as if they didn’t quite know how to finish off a move or what particular style they wanted to do, often making pointless passes, moving the ball too slowly up the pitch and failing to shoot at good opportuinities. By and large they looked a bit lost even if they did try hard although like Cork they were short quite a few. Still, a good result and a decent performance for Cork, and a step closer to a Cork-Dublin final in Croker.