Nicky English: Joe Canning no longer peerless as Cork destroyed

Posting 23 wides while scoring 2-28 shows their strength in depth

The Leinster final would have thrown a lot of people, me included, off the Galway scent. They were excellent in this complete destruction of Cork. What we saw in the Dublin replay from Cathal Mannion and Jason Flynn was missing against Kilkenny.

Flynn was injured, Mannion had a poor game, even David Burke was taken off.

It seemed like Joe Canning was still their most important scoring resource. He probably still is but Canning's no longer peerless.

Almost every Galway player caught fire yesterday but there have been signs of this level of consistent excellence. My concern was the reliance on Canning and whether they could produce a decent spread of scoring forwards in a game that really mattered. Flynn got three points, Cyril Donnellan’s 0-2 matched Canning’s return from play, but it was Conor Whelan and Glynn who shared 2-4. Cathal Mannion got seven points and was just superb.


That, finally, confirms Galway as genuine contenders.

There was other evidence of the Leinster final, which was a decent enough performance, being the anomaly of this summer rather than example of Galway form. Their collective touch yesterday was back to what we saw against Laois and Dublin.

Statement of intent

Johnny Glynn’s goal in the opening seconds was a statement of intent that Cork could never match. His ball winning ability is incredible. In contrast, Cork forwards couldn’t win their own ball. Glynn is a monstrous hurler. It’s not just his physical presence, it’s his work rate.

That they completely destroyed Cork while posting 23 wides, nine from Canning, as he had a complete off-day, is testament to the new strength in depth at Anthony Cunningham’s disposal.

I was hugely impressed on the road out of Thurles and so will everyone in Tipperary. Just think of David Collins, Fergal Moore and Niall Healy all coming off the bench. And they have been pretty consistent this season. Their loss to Kilkenny in the Leinster final deserves to be reassessed after this showing. There is context now of a team building towards something more substantial. They destroyed Laois, were held by Dublin in Croke Park before completely hammering them in the Tullamore replay and for long periods stayed with the All-Ireland champions. Most importantly they have learned from that defeat. Their defence was impressive in the Leinster final and again here.

Pádraig Mannion is a fantastic corner back. Aidan Harte and Daithí Burke were really sharp as the wing backs. Cork couldn't get hold of anything in that area. David Burke grew as a midfielder as well. His injury feels like a loss.

Galway are in super physical condition but that’s not it; their movement and use of the ball was even more impressive. Twenty-three wides is fixable. Anthony Cunningham is not going to have a sleepless night about Canning missing the target against Tipperary. If you give them half their wides they would have scored 2-40. That’s incredible. After last year’s defeat they will relish a meeting with Tipp.

Waterford can take similar confidence into their semi-final with Kilkenny. It's the ideal last four really as the most consistent counties have been rewarded with August hurling.

Dublin was a pressure game for Waterford. The whole year was riding on it because they had won the league and because they had made the Munster final. They needed to back it up by winning a game they were expected to win.

An appearance in Croke Park this summer is essential for the development of this young panel. I’ve never seen anyone hit line balls further than Austin Gleeson. In that 10 minutes after half-time, when they were almost flawless, he was a constant presence around midfield.

Dublin played as well as they had all year. They hung in there. Ryan O'Dwyer, Dotsy O'Callaghan, Mark Schutte and eventually Conal Keaney all had their moments. After a poor championship, Danny Sutcliffe finally hit top form in the first half with three fine points.

Dublin probed for the chink in Waterford’s armour, they pounded away, they took their scores at vital moments. A few really minor mistakes in defence and Waterford ruthlessly punished them with two goals. That was the difference.

Sideline point

And still Mark Schutte’s goal asked the most severe question of Derek McGrath’s men. They got stuck into them, made it a four-point game, but the response was that magnificent sideline point from Gleeson and eventually Maurice Shanahan’s goal.

McGrath can pick away at the performance. There were chances they should have taken. Bennett should have passed for a certain goal a few wides from Colin Dunford held them back.

After half-time they showed their mettle. Bennett's goal was unbelievable but the contributions of Kevin Moran and Brick Walsh cannot be overstated.

No, they won’t fear Kilkenny at all. The problem with Waterford is they are so difficult to play against. They have greater energy levels than any other hurling side in the country. Kilkenny haven’t faced them this year so it will be a new experience. That should matter. It’s not the Waterford of old. Nor is it the Galway we initially expected.