GALWAY defeated last year’s finalists Cork at Thurles to earn a July 3 All-Ireland semi-final date against defending champions Limerick at Croke Park.
Enri Sheflin’s squad returned after a disappointing final from Leinster to register their fifth championship win on spin over the Rebels. It was a disappointing afternoon for Cork, who won the Liam McCarthy Cup 17 years ago.
A poor start saw Cork score two relatively soft goals in the first quarter and a disappointing finish in the first half when the advantage of the wind – he converted just seven of his 24 chances – proved his undoing, although Galway’s. Goalkeeper Anna Murphy produced three. saves.
For Galway, this is a welcome change of fortune. Since losing to Limerick in the 2018 All-Ireland final, they have struggled at the business end of the season, although they reached the semi-finals of 2020 but lost again to Limerick.
In 2019 they failed to exit Leinster and the previous season were defeated by Waterford in Round 2 of the Qualifiers.
Galway boss Henry Sheflin later admitted that his side would face a bigger challenge in the semi-finals, but for now they can enjoy a stay in the last four of the All-Ireland series.
A handling error from Cork goalkeeper Patrick Collins after 20 seconds gave Galway a dream start. He allowed a long drive for Jack Grealish to slip off his fingers and fall into the net. Although Kaithal Manion added the fourth minute point, Cork dominated the first quarter.
His defenders continued to beat Galway and his forward created plenty of chances but won 2-6 in the first few minutes.
Galway goalkeeper Anna Murphy saved Alan Connolly’s opening attempt. Then, after 11 minutes Luke Mead combined with Alan Connolly, whose off-load peach was collected by Robbie O’Flynn, whose shot was brilliantly shot by Murphy.
Then to rub salt into Cork’s wounds, Galway scored a second goal against run-of-play after 17 minutes. A fatal hesitation from corner-back Sean O’Donoghue allowed Connor Whelan to score his goal. He still had a lot of work to do, but he found the net to give Galway a 2-2 0-3 lead.
22. Murphy saved Galway for the third timeRa The minute Darragh Fitzgibbon broke through cover, but didn’t make proper close range contact with his shot. Still, it was an excellent stop for the Galway Keeper.
And to ease Cork’s misery, Connor Lehane, who was having a nightmare afternoon with his free-taking, missed the latter 65.
Both sides’ finishing improved in the later stages of the first half with a points brace from Mark Coleman and a brilliant effort from Robbie O’Finne, but Galway responded with braces from David Burke and Joseph Cooney.
But Galway hardly deserved to lead five at the break (2-7; 0-8). Cork’s figure of 12 wide was disappointing in comparison to Galway’s six.
Cianan Fahy, who was revoked a two-match ban on technicality by the GAA’s Central Hearing Committee, withdrew after 30 minutes and Galway also lost defender Gyroyd McInerney to injury just before the break .
Patrick Horgan, the all-time leading scorer in the championship, was introduced at half-time – replacing off-form Lehane.
Cork got his first crucial break in the second half; Shane Kingston walked away from the crowd of players and had a free run on goal, and made no mistake from close range. Galway returned with three points on the spin, the final one a brilliant effort from Conor Whelan, who also assisted for the first.
But Darragh Fitzgibbon hit a brace as the game eventually threatened to catch fire.
Brian Concannon and Jason Flynn came on the scoreboard in place of Galway, while Patrick Horgan took his first after 52 minutes to make it a three-point game (1-13; 0-13).
But Galway once again had a brief golden spell hitting three points in a row; Kaithal Manion had a chance to make it a four-figure game but lost his possession. Horgan almost immediately made a free hit to Cork and the initiative resumed.
In straight finals it was anybody’s game. Galway took the initiative, but failed to convert the three Long Range Frees from inside their own half.
58. third digit fromth Minute substitute Alan Cadogan left two points between the teams, two of which were played in the allotted five-minute injury time. Then a monster freed from Horgan hit straight, and after a scuffle the umpire ruled that the ball had passed the Galway player.
A darn Fitzgibbon point left the minimum between them but there was no last-minute respite for Cork. Jack Grealish, who had scored the opening goal, brilliantly resumed the cork and when the ball stalled later, Cathal Manion took possession to take the win.
Scorers: Galway: C Whelan 1-2, C Coney 0-5 (4f), C Manion 0-3, J Grealish 1-0, J Cooney, D Burke (0-2) each. R Glennon, T Monaghan, J Flynn, B Concannon, J Coen 0-1 each.
Corks: S Kingston 1-2 (1f), P Horgan 0-4 (2f, 1 65), R O’Fynn, M Coleman (2f, 1 sideline), A Cadogan, D Fitzgibbon 0-3 each, D Cahalane , el meade, c lehane (1f) 0-1 each
Cork: P Collins; N. O’Leary, R. Downey, S. O. Donoghue; D. Kahlane, C. Joyce, M. Coleman; De Fitzgibbian, El Meade; R O’Flynn, S Harnady, S Kingston; T O’Mahony, A. Connolly, C. Lehane. Later editions: for P. Horgan Lehn HT; J O’Connor (47) for Connolly, G. Milrick (51) for Downey, A. Cadogan (58) for O’Mahony, T. O’Connell (68) for Harney,
Galway: Anna Murphy; J Grealish, Dethy Burke, D Morrissey; P Manion, G McInerney F Burke; J. Cooney, R. Glennon; T Monaghan, C Coney, David Burke. Sea Manion, Sea Fahy, Sea Whelan. Subscribers: B Concannon for Fahy (30), Jay Flynn for McInerney (34), Jay Coen for Monaghan (45), E Niland for David Burke (69), G Lee for Monaghan (70 +4)
Referee: Pod O’Divorce (Carlo)