Cork 2-15 Monaghan 1-16
By Eoghan Cormican, O’Connor Park
Cork’s greater balance in front of goal propelled them past Monaghan and into a first All-Ireland U21 final since 2013.
The winners finished with eight different scorers, including each member of their starting front six, while Monaghan were largely dependent on Barry McGinn and Conor McCarthy for scores.
The Munster champions were never led beyond the 22nd minute and although Monaghan closed the gap to the minimum early in the second period, they were unable to regain parity.
Three on the bounce from Sean Powter, Sean O’Donoghue and Michael Hurley between the 37th and 39th minute nudged Cork into a 2-11 to 1-10 lead and thereafter, the Rebels never looked like being caught.
Subs Ronan O’Toole and Stephen Sherlock both kicked points to cancel out Monaghan efforts, with O’Donoghue and Powter adding to their tallies late on.
Monaghan, upon closing the deficit to two, lofted the ball into the opposition square in the third minute of stoppage, but Cork held firm.
Sean Hayes’ charges had returned back down the tunnel at half-time 2-7 to 1-9 in front, the lead having changed hands on seven occasions in the opening period.
Barry McGinn kicked three of Monaghan’s opening four points as they led 0-4 to 0-3 after 11 minutes. The contest’s first goal, however, moved Cork in front as Peter Kelleher scrambled the ball across the line after a powerful run by Sean Powter.
The Monaghan response was as swift as it was effective, McGinn blasting to the net little over a minute after Kelleher’s green flag. A Donal Meegan point had Monaghan 1-5 to 1-3 to the good, but Cork reclaimed the inside lane with a 1-3 burst.
Sean O’Donoghue, Ryan Harkin and Brian Coakley raised three white flags in-a-row before Harkin, after a sweeping passage of play cut open the Monaghan rearguard, rattled the back of the Monaghan net.
Cork, though, were unable to build on this scoring burst and were outscored 0-4 to 0-1 on the run in to the break as McGinn (0-2), Fearghal McMahon and Conor McCarthy kept Monaghan in touch.
Failure to get back, ultimately, proved their downfall.
Scorers for Cork: S O’Donoghue (0-4); R Harkin (1-1); M Hurley, S Powter (0-3 each); P Kelleher (1-0); B Coakley (0-2); S Sherlock, R O’Toole (0-1 each).
Scorers for Monaghan: B McGinn (1-6, 0-2 frees); C McCarthy (0-2 frees), F McMahon (0-3 each); C Forde (0-1 free), D Ward, R McAnespie (0-1 each).
Cork: A Casey (Kiskeam); M McSweeney (Newcestown), J Mullins (Éire Óg), D Quinn (St Finbarr’s); K Flahive (Douglas), S Cronin (Nemo Rangers), K Histon (Cobh); S White (Clonakilty), S O’Leary (Bantry Blues); S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), S Powter (Douglas), R Harkin (Mallow); B Coakley (Carrigaline), P Kelleher (Kilmichael), M Hurley (Casltehaven).
Subs: E Lavers (Dohenys) for O’Leary (HT), R O’Toole (Éire Óg) for Quinn (41), S Sherlock (St Finbarr’s) for Coakley (42, bc), D Ó Duinnín (Cill na Matra) for Harkin (55), C Dorgan (Ballincollig) for Powter (62)
Monaghan: C Forde (Scotstown); B Kerry (Cremartin), M Murnaghan (Donaghmoyne), K Loughran (Monaghan Harps); D Ward (Ballybay), J Mealiff (Clones), N Rooney (Truagh Gaels); N Loughman (Carrickmacross), A Lynch (Carrickmacross); R McAnespie (Emyvale), B McGinn (Doohamlet), D Meegan (Inniskeen); F McMahon (Monaghan Harps), C McCarthy (Scotstown), A Treanor (Truagh Gaels).
Subs: F Maguire (Scotstown) for Treanor (17), A Curran (Clontibret) for Lynch (35), B McBennett (Doohamlet) for McMahon (40).
Referee: J Hickey (Carlow).