Murphy's inch-perfect puck-outs point Shefflin and Galway into the semi-finals 1 month ago

Murphy's inch-perfect puck-outs point Shefflin and Galway into the semi-finals

Galway 2-19 Cork 1-21

Henry Shefflin raised his two fists into the air as, after a nail-biting finish, his Galway side booked their place in an All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick.

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It was hardly perfect from them, for large periods it was flat, but it was enough and, in the end, it was the perfect way to bounce back after that Leinster final no-show against Kilkenny.

As ever, Conor Whelan was the man of the moment for Galway, scoring a crucial goal and two divine points but, while they did plenty to win this game, the main story, you'd have to say, was that Cork did more to lose it.

They did a whole lot more of the hurling but, with 25 minutes gone, and after a bucket-load of chances, they had only five points on the board and, for a finish, it was a period they would never recover from. Their championship is now over and, with a long winter ahead of them, they'll be ruing those chances for the rest of the year.

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It was fitting that, as one of the strangest halves of hurling you've ever laid eyes on, this game began with a moment of utter madness. Jack Grealish is a corner back, he's a man-marker but, sixteen seconds after the ball was-thrown in, he became the game's first goalscorer.

You couldn't even call it a good shot but, in the shadows of the posts, and under a ball he'd usually catch in his sleep, Patrick Collins was deceived by its akwardness and, to Cork's dismay, he was dropping it into the net.

And if you thought that was strange, with Sean O'Donoghue turning his back on a Tom Monaghan delivery, the second goal was even stranger. O'Donoghue was just unfortunate that, as he struggled to find his bearings, Conor Whelan was the man stealing a yard and a yard was all he needed.

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He gave Patrick Collins no chance and suddenly, having been cleaned out of it by the Cork half back line, having struggled to find any sort of rhythm in the game, Galway were five points up after seventeen minutes.

And at that stage, Cork must have been absolutely kicking themselves. They had missed two goal chances, through Darragh Fitzgibbon and Alan Connolly, and by half-time, they had struck 13 wides. Conor Lehane was culpable for four of them - he was all over the shop with his frees - and to a large extent, Galway were gifted a half-time buffer of five points.

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Cork huffed and puffed in that second half, and Shane Kingston's goal was sensational, but it was soul-destroying for them that they could never get back on level terms. Galway deserve plenty of credit for that because, after some hairy first half moments, Daithí Burke eventually steadied the ship in the full back line

Padraic Mannion was as cool and composed as ever while, down the other end of the field, and with the game in the melting pot, his brother Cathal struck four beautiful points from play. It was the same sort of a story from Joseph Cooney, who was fairly anonymous aside from the fact that, crucially, he scored two game-changing points when Galway really needed them.

Those boys all had their moments but Galway's man for all seasons was their goalkeeper Eanna Murphy. His saves were crucial, from Fitzgibbon and Connolly, but it was the calmness and consistency of his puck-outs that won this game for Galway. Twice, he picked out the aforementioned Mannion in acres and all told, he didn't put a foot wrong by the end of the day.

And so Galway march on. Limerick will hardly be quaking in their boots but they could lift it yet.

Cork:

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Patrick Collins; Niall O’Leary, Robert Downey, Sean O’Donoghue; Damien Cahalane (0-1), Ciarán Joyce, Mark Coleman (0-2f); Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-3), Luke Meade, Robbie O’Flynn (0-3), Séamus Harnedy, Shane Kingston (0-2, 0-1f); Tim O’Mahony, Alan Connolly, Conor Lehane (0-1f)

Subs: Patrick Horgan (0-3, 0-2f) for Conor Lehane (HT), Ger Millerick for Robert Downey (50), Alan Cadogan (0-3) for O'Mahony (58)

Galway:

Eanna Murphy, Jack Grealish (1-0), Daithí Burke, Darren Morrissey, Gearoid McInerney, Padraic Mannion, Fintan Burke, Joseph Cooney (0-2), David Burke (0-2), Ronan Glennon (0-1), Conor Cooney (0-3, 0-2f, 0-1 65), Tom Monaghan (0-1), Conor Whelan (1-2), Cianan Fahy, Cathal Mannion (0-4)

Subs:

Brian Concannon (0-1) for Cianan Fahy (30), Jason Flynn (0-1) for Gearoid McInerney (47) Johnny Coen (0-1) for Ronan Glennon (44), Gavin Lee for Monaghan (70)