Cork secure Championship title

Cork 2-12 Kerry 1-14 (aet)

Cork secured a second consecutive Cadbury Munster U21 Football Championship title after they twice withstood Kerry comebacks at Austin Stack Park in Tralee tonight.

Having seen a four-point second-half lead evaporate as Kerry forced extra time, the visitors looked assured of victory as they then built up a six-point advantage in the additional 20 minutes.

While Kerry came back again, reducing the lead to just a point with time running out, Cork managed to repel the late attacks to progress to the All-Ireland series.

Brian Hurley, who won the official man of the match award, was Cork’s best forward as he scored four points, while midfielder Rory Deane had his moments and in defence Danny O’Donovan and Damien Cahalane were excellent.

Midfielder James Walsh was Kerry’s standout player, Conor Cox impressed from frees and sub Éanna O’Connor made a positive impact in extra time, but ultimately they could not rescue the game.

Early on, it looked as if Cork would have things their own way as they seared into a 0-4 to nil lead inside five minutes, but instead of building upon that they allowed their opponents back into contention and Cox’s frees helped Kerry to level at 0-4 each by the 19th minute.

A good Jamie Wall point ended Cork’s drought though and then captain Donal Óg Hodnett added a goal, pouncing following a scramble after a Luke Connolly free dropped short.

Cox cut the gap to a goal by half-time though and he registered early in the second half too but Hurley and John O’Rourke made it 1-7 to 0-6 with 17 minutes of normal time left.

They would only score once more in the regulation period, though, as Kerry found another gear.

The hosts had cut the gap to two points, 1-8 to 0-10, as the game moved beyond its 60th minute, before a massive Cox free was followed by a super sideline kick from O’Carroll to force extra time.

Cork responded well, Hodnett and sub Dan Mac Eoin pointing before Connolly found the net, and then Deane added another point to make it 2-11 to 0-11 at the turnaround.

Back Kerry came again, sub O’Connor pointing before captain Chris Brady converted a penalty but another Mac Eoin score settled Cork. O’Connor and Gavan O’Grady cut the ga to the minimum again but this time Kerry could not level.

CORK: S Mellett; D O’Donovan, D Cahalane, A Cronin (0-1); J Cronin, T Clancy, J Wall (0-1); R Deane (0-1), E Healy; K Hallissey, M Sugrue, J O’Rourke (0-1); L Connolly (1-1), B Hurley (0-4, 0-2f), D Óg Hodnett (1-1).

Subs: D Nation for Healy (49), C O’Sullivan for Clancy (50, inj), A Cadogan for Sugrue (57), D Mac Eoin (0-2) for Hallissey (60), B O’Driscoll for Wall (77).

KERRY: P O’Sullivan; M Galvin, M Griffin, F McNamara; P Kilkenny, J Sherwood, P Murphy; D O’Sullivan, J Walsh; S O’Brien, C Brady (1-0 penalty), S O’Carroll (0-2, 0-1 sideline); I Galvin, C Cox (0-8, 0-7f), K Hurley (0-1).

Subs: M Reen for I Galvin (26), N O’Shea for Hurley (43), D Culhane for M Galvin (53), T Morley for Sherwood, G O’Grady (0-1) for Cox (both 65), É O’Connor (0-2, 0-1f) for O’Carroll (half-time in extra time).

Referee: K O’Brien (Tipperary).

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