A late Siobhan McGrath goal five minutes from time made the difference for Galway as they won their second All-Ireland Senior Camogie title in three years in a closely-contested three-point victory over Cork.
In a tense fixture which the Tribeswomen led narrowly for long periods, Cathal Murray's side suddenly found themselves behind after Katrina Mackey had put Cork three in front after a 48th minute goal.
But it was McGrath and Galway who would claim the cup for a fourth time in their history and bounce back from defeat in the 2020 decider with her crucial and timely intervention.
The pre-match build-up had been dominated by talk of reprieves, with Cork's Orla Cronin receiving an 11th hour opportunity to feature after her straight red card in the semi-final win over Kilkenny.
The Enniskeane clubwoman was not the only change on both teams from the 15s named on Thursday as she replaced Cork captain Linda Collins in the forward line; Galway also made an alteration with Carrie Dolan taking Niamh Hanniffy’s place in the midfield.
And it was Dolan who was first on the board with a free from 40 metres in the opening minute. The Clarinbridge club player added a second just two minutes later as Galway showed the early impetus, winning twice as many turnovers in the opening quarter.
Siobhan McGrath scored the first point from play after finding space on the right, turning and firing over with aplomb, before Ailish O’Reilly made it 0-04 to no score within four minutes.
Cork then reduced the arrears as Ashling Thompson stemmed the tide, striding forward and splitting the posts.
McGrath showed composure once again after seven minutes as Galway continued their strong start as she collected a pass from sister Orlaith who had burst forward under pressure.
Cork then had a goal chance as Katrina Mackey collected a lofted pass but the Douglas clubwoman’s goal-bound shot was smothered by Galway’s alert goalkeeper Sarah Healy.
But Cork would notch their second point as Chloe Sigerson split the posts from distance on nine minutes, before dual star Hannah Looney added two more in as many minutes to reduce the gap to 0-05 to 0-04.
Another Carrie Dolan free restored Galway's momentum however, before Cork briefly threatened a goal chance as Amy O'Connor broke forward only for Dervla Higgins to make a timely intervention to prevent the pass going overhead towards Cronin as the Tribeswomen led by two at the first-half water break.
It was Cronin who put over the next score after the resumption for Cork after O'Connor was fouled by Emma Helebert to close the gap to just a point but the irrepressible Dolan scored her fourth free to extend the Galway lead seconds later.
For a brief second, O’Connor would have a sight at goal on 23 minutes but as the angle closed, she turned course and whipped over a point to keep Cork within a point. They would have a chance to draw level but a free from Cronin drifted wide a minute later.
But Galway hit the front again through Niamh Kilkenny, cutting in from the inside right and firing over.
Cork would pull within one on 27 minutes after Aoife Donohue fouled Looney with Cronin making no mistake this time to close the gap down to 0-08 to 0-07.
The Rebels drew level deep into the three minutes of injury time as they crafted another opening through Cronin which Mackey finished off from close range.
However, it would be Galway, whose accuracy from frees was giving them the edge, who lead 0-09 to 0-08 at the break after Aoife Donohue scored brilliantly from just inside the right touchline.
Aoife Donoghue produces a superb score during stoppage time and a big celebration as Galway take a narrow lead over Cork at the break.— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) September 12, 2021
Analysis coming up on @rte2 and @rteplayer. #rtegaa #sundaygame pic.twitter.com/r7qewcqiZk
Cork were first onto the pitch ahead of the second half. But it was Galway – making one change at the interval as Niamh Hannify replaced Catherine Finnerty - who got the first score as Niamh Kilkenny showed deft footwork and then determination before firing over.
Cork's free-taking issues cropped up again as Sigerson’s effort from half-way fell short, before captain Linda Collins was introduced to the fray as Paudie Murray sought the impact she had made previously against Kilkenny in the semi-final.
Cork had a golden opportunity when Galway goalkeeper Healy ceded possession as she tried to clear but O’Connor, who had stolen the sliotar cleverly, was unable to capitalise on the opening with her effort going wide of the near post from an admittedly tight angle.
But Cronin struck over a free after a foul on O’Connor for which Shauna Healy was yellow-carded to leave the scores at 0-10 to 0-09.
Galway had a great chance to extend that narrow advantage as Dolan found space opening up in front of goal but Libby Coppinger made an excellent block to keep the Rebel County within touching distance.
But Dolan then pointed a free to extend the gap to two points again, before Cork battled back again with a Cronin free after Siobhan Gardiner was yellow carded for a high challenge on her as they counter-attacked quickly leaving Galway just 0-11 to 0-10 clear at the 46th minute water break.
Cronin immediately levelled for Cork on the resumption as the umpire's white flag rose as their intensity increased.
And it would get even better for those in red on 48 minutes as Mackey collected a handpass into space from captain Collins and cracked a shot which Healy in the Galway goal could do nothing to prevent. It hit the net and left Cork 1-11 to 0-11 in front.
Dolan pointed a free for Galway just before being withdrawn as Cathal Murray’s side attempted to rally and Ailish O’Reilly scored an excellent free from just inside the right touchline to put the Tribeswomen back within one.
And then Galway’s lead was restored in style with five minutes of normal time to go. O’Reilly drove forward, holding off Cork markers before releasing the overlapping Siobhan McGrath to finish past Cork goalkeeper Amy Lee to make it 1-13 to 1-11.
Cronin then finished off a Cork attack with a point to reduce the gap to just one on 58 minutes to set up a tense finish.
Orlaith McGrath gave Galway some breathing space with a fine point from distance to make it 1-14 to 1-12, before knocking over a late insurance score to pave the way for captain Sarah Dervan to lift the cup.
Cork: Amy Lee; Pamela Mackey, Libby Coppinger, Méabh Cahalane; Saoirse McCarthy, Laura Treacy, Laura Hayes; Hannah Looney (0-02), Ashling Thompson (0-01); Chloe Sigerson 0-01), Fiona Keating (Cliona Healy '58), Ciara O'Sullivan (Linda Collins ‘35); Katrina Mackey (1-01), Amy O’Connor (0-01), Orla Cronin (0-06, 4f).
Galway: Sarah Healy; Shauna Healy, Sarah Dervan, Dervla Higgins; Siobhan Gardiner, Emma Helebert, Catriona Cormican (Ann-Marie Starr ‘59); Carrie Dolan (0-06, 6f) (Rebecca Hennelly ‘50), Niamh Kilkenny (0-02); Catherine Finnerty (Niamh Hanniffy h-t), Sarah Spellman (Noreen Coen ‘60), Aoife Donohue (0-01); Siobhan McGrath (1-03), Orlaith McGrath (0-02), Ailish O’Reilly (0-01, 1f)