Saturday 26 May 2018

Cork overcome Monaghan to progress to finals

Cork 2-15 Monaghan 1-16

Cork's Ronan O'Toole (left) and Kevin Flahive celebrate after the game Photo: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE
Cork's Ronan O'Toole (left) and Kevin Flahive celebrate after the game Photo: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE
Monaghan's Kevin Loughran tries to avoid a challenge from Cork's Michael Hurley Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Cork's Sean O'Donoghue in action against Monaghan's Barry Kerr Photo: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE Newsdesk Newsdesk

Cork are back in the All-Ireland under 21 football final for the first time since 2013 after displaying grit and class in overcoming Monaghan in a thriller at Tullamore. First-half goals from Ryan Harkin and Peter Kelleher left Monaghan chasing the game, and the Ulster champions fell just short at the end.

Cork's impressive 2-15 tally came entirely from play, three of those scores from man of the match Michael Hurley, younger brother of senior star Brian.

The sides had already been level on three occasions during a fast-moving opening spell, when the game caught fire with two goals in the space of 90 seconds. In the 12th minute, Sean Powter burned the Monaghan defence with his scorching pace, crossing for Kelleher to finish from close range. The Ulster champions responded with a McGinn screamer, rifled to the top corner of the net after he had side-stepped two defenders with nifty footwork.

Despite McGinn's classy 1-5 haul, all but a point of it from play, it was the Munster champions who led by 2-7 to 1-9 at the break, thanks to a couple of points each from Sean O'Donoghue and Brian Coakley.

Centre-back Stephen Cronin pressed strongly from deep to create chances that Hurley and Powter converted as the Munster men eased further clear. And when Ronan O'Toole came off the bench to land a beauty from distance with his first touch, they led by 2-12 to 1-11.

Monaghan did break clear for McCarthy and wing-back Dessie Ward to steer over scores, and Ward missed a golden goal chance, pulling his shot wide.

After surviving a difficult spell, the Rebels reasserted themselves, and delightful scores from O'Donoghue and the elusive Powter had them four clear going into the final five minutes.

Scorers - Cork: R Harkin 1-1, P Kelleher 1-0, S O'Donoghue 0-4, M Hurley, S Powter 0-3 each, B Coakley 0-2, S Sherlock, R O'Toole 0-1 each; Monaghan: B McGinn 1-6 (0-2f), C McCarthy (1f), F McMahon 0-3 each, C Forde, D Meegan, D Ward, R McAnespie 0-1 each

Monaghan: C Forde, B Kerr, M Murnaghan, K Loughran, D Ward, J Mealiff, N Rooney, N Loughman, A Lynch, R McAnespie, B McGinn, D Meegan, M O'Dowd, C McCarthy, F McMahon. Subs: F Maguire for Treanor (17), A Curran for Lynch (34), B McBennett for McMahon (38), D O Duinin for Harkin (54)

Cork: A Casey, M McSweeney, J Mullins, D Quinn, K Flahive, S Cronon, K Histon, S White, S O'Leary, S O'Donoghue, S Power, R Harkin, B Coakley, P Kelleher, M Hurley. Subs: E Lavers for O'Leary (h-t), R O'Toole for Quinn (39) S Sherlock for Coakley (BC 43), C Dorgan for Powter (61)

Referee: J Hickey (Carlow)

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