The improving Galway hurlers will face defeated Munster finalists Waterford on Sunday week at Semple Stadium at 4pm in the All-Ireland quarter final as a result of their impressive victory last Saturday over a shell shocked Cork outfit.
The carrot for the winners of that quarter final will be a place in the last four against either Kilkenny or a Tipperary outfit that mercilessly dismantled Waterford by 7-19 to 0-19 last Sunday.
Galway will hope to defeat Waterford on July 24 and qualify for their first All-Ireland semi-final in six years.
Last weekend Galway had a poor start in the Gaelic Grounds and found themselves down by 1-03 to 0-0 early on.
However, as a delighted John McIntyre pointed out after the game, his charges backed themselves completely and dug themselves out of what could have become a very dangerous situation,
"The most pleasing aspect of our victory was the way we fought back after being in a deep hole early on,” said McIntyre. “We were six points down playing with the wind, so it was turning into the decisive test of character.
"If the backbone in this Galway team was as weak as some people thought it was three weeks ago, they could have very easily collapsed and fallen away. But they dug in. They played some great hurling and came back into the game.”
Apart from that early spell the Galway defence was in complete control with Adrian Cullinane and David Collins particularly impressive. Collins was superb in the corner and his tremendous block down on Paudie O’Sullivan was one of the highlights of the game.
Shane Kavanagh also settled well after a shaky start and another 70 minutes of championship hurling will have improved his fitness levels. Tony Óg Regan was solid and powerful at centre-back.
David Burke and Andy Smith did well around the middle third and both players hit two points each, with Smith’s coming at important stages. Their work rate was exceptional and it was great to see Burke play such an influential role.
Up front all the forwards did some very good things. Joe Canning and Damien Hayes tormented their markers and Joe Gantley worked like a demon all through. It was an all-round impressive team performance and one that was unrecognisable from what was produced in Tullamore against Dublin in mid June.
Tony Óg Regan was pleased with team’s performance
"Any time you come out with a win like that you have to be pleased. We just knuckled down after the bad start. We didn't want James [Skehill] to be made a scapegoat, so the other 14 got down to hard work. Cork scored 1-3 early on, but we missed quite a bit, so we felt we'd get back into it once we tidied things up.
“We stayed creating the chances and thankfully we started finishing them off. We pulled away then after that.”
Galway scored 25 times, while also shooting 16 wides, which gives a clear indication of the dominance they enjoyed all over the pitch.
McIntyre has been around the block too long and taken a few big body blows against Waterford and Tipperary in the quarter-finals over the past two years to get too caught up with this win over a failing Cork outfit. He was quick to point out that Galway would have tougher tests ahead.
"This Cork team has been drifting further and further off title-winning pace in recent years, and we know that we will have tougher challenges ahead.”
Galway: J Skehill; F Moore, S Kavanagh, D Collins, D Barry, T Og Regan, A Cullinane; A Smith (0-2 ), D Burke (0-2 ); J Gantley (0-1 ), G Farragher (0-4 ), I Tannian (0-1 ); D Hayes (1-3 ), J Canning (0-10 - 4fs 1 '65' ), A Kerins. Subs: B Daly for Smith (57 ), C Donnellan (1-0 ) for Kerins, K Hynes for Tannian (65 ), J Coen for Gantley (67 ), D Joyce for Collins (68 ).