Hurlers draw first blood in double date with Cork

Finian Coone of Galway and Cork's David Cunningham in action from the Allianz National Hurling League against Cork game at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Finian Coone of Galway and Cork's David Cunningham in action from the Allianz National Hurling League against Cork game at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

There was a dreamlike and eerie atmosphere in Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon as most hurling supporters kept their powder dry and stayed away until the league final on Sunday week.

Galway won the fixture by 3-17 to 2-13, but nobody will read too much into the result.

It was a phoney war in all but name as both sides fielded under-strength teams.

Only Sean Og O hAilpin, captain Kieran Murphy and Ben O’Connor would be regulars on the Cork side, while Galway also gave game-time to players who needed a run out.

Niall Healy received most of the headlines with his impressive haul of 2-09 and that display should ensure a starting jersey in Semple Stadium for him. Likewise Ollie Canning delivered another one of his effortless displays that makes him look so at ease and in control of most situations.

The only thing to be taken from the victory was that it maintains Galway’s winning momentum and highlighted the strength in depth of Galway’s panel. There is plenty of competition for places now and that is a situation that will please John McIntyre and his selectors.

Genuine competition for starting places ensures good competitive training most nights and means that players know they cannot rest on their laurels.

Having four or five players gunning it out for the full-back line or half-line keeps everyone on their toes and enhances the chances of real success.

Nevertheless, a full-strength Cork side in the league final will provide a different challenge, but McIntyre has big names to come back into the frame too.

His side beat Cork in the championship third round last year by seven points (1-19 to 0-15 ) and he will know that a hat-trick of successes over the Rebels will be hard earned.

In the county u-21 hurling finals, Gort were 0 - 12 to 1 - 08 winners over St Thomas in the A decider, while the B final saw Ardrahan prevail over Liam Mellows by 1 - 11 to 0 - 12.

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