Cork 2-10 Laois 0-15
DANIEL GOULDING’S point two minutes into injury time gave Cork victory in a magnificent Cadburys All-Ireland U21 FC final at Thurles on Saturday night.
This was a wonderful, wonderful game of Gaelic football played by two magnificent teams who were level 10 times before Goulding struck for the winning point in the 62nd minute after man of the match Fintan Goold had been fouled.
While Cork will bask in the glory of winning their 10th All-Ireland success at this level, spare a thought for Laois who were minutes away from winning their first title at this grade when they led 0-15 to 1-9.
Laois, who had played superbly all through, will wonder how this game got away from them. They kicked 14 wides to Cork’s five, and the very least they deserved from this enthralling contest was a second bite of the cherry.
However Cork’s absolute refusal to accept defeat in those hectic closing minutes and their unquenchable belief in their ability to win the game when all seemed lost now moves to the top of the roll of honour, one ahead of Munster rivals Kerry.
Cork were fortunate that all their big name players were at their very best. They simply had to be as Laois fired on all cylinders from start to finish. Michael Shields held the winners defence together well and it was his long delivery which led to the equalising goal.
Ray Carey never put a foot wrong and his superb block from Donie Brennan’s goal bound kick which he took full in the face, epitomised Cork’s never say die attitude. Despite losing the midfield exchanges to the Laois pair of Brendan Quigley and Cathal Óg Greene, Fintan Goold and Andrew O’Sullivan had their moments.
Daniel Goulding was easily the best of the Cork forwards, and had Paul Kerrigan’s finish matched his superb approach work, he could well have had more than one point on the scoreboard.
Cork began well and should have had a goal in the opening minute but Fintan Goold’s pass to the unmarked Colm O’Neill was overhit and the chance was lost. However it set the scene for an epic contest and two superbly fit teams were level five times in the opening 25 minutes before Laois, with David Conway and Michael John Tierney giving the Cork defence a torrid time, kicked three points in a row, two of them by Tierney, to lead 0-8 to 0-5 coming up to half time.
However a line ball by Cathrach Keane sent Daniel Goulding off on a great run and the Eire Og man billowed the Laois net for a marvellous goal which tied the game at the break, 1-5 to 0-8.
There was no let up in the pace on the resumption but Laois added to their wide tally with three in a row before Shane O’Neill lost a glorious chance of a goal for the O’Moore County when he fielded superbly from the air, turned but blazed wide with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Cork too were guilty of poor finishing. Colm O’Neill and Fiachra Lynch were wide after good approach work and by the end of the third quarter each side had added just a single point to their half time scores.
Play swung from end to end before Laois made their final push for victory. They introduced teen sensation Donie Kingston to their attack and Cork began to concede needless frees which MJ Tierney punished. As the clock ticked down, Laois were looking good for their first title leading 0-15 to 1-9.
With a second decider defeat in a row staring them in the face, Cork threw caution to the wind and brought Michael Shields out to centre back.
There appeared to be no danger as he won possession on his own 45 metre line but with the Laois forwards backing off him he came forward before unleashing a high ball deep into the square where Colm O’Neill rose highest to fist home an equalising goal which tied this gripping encounter for the 10th time.
Both sides were out on their feet and would gladly have settled for the draw, but the fourth official signalled one extra minute and that went by without a score before substitute Shane McCarthy sent Fintan Goold away on a run and he was grounded 35 meters out from goal. Every Cork follower in the crowd of 5,500 help their breath as Goulding stood over the kick and he showed marvellous composure to land the winning point and leave Laois completely shattered.
Scorers for Cork: D. Goulding 1-6 (0-4 frees, 0-1 45); C. O’Neill 1-1; F. Lynch, S. O’Donoghue, P. Kerrigan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Laois: MJ Tierney 0-7 (0-5 frees); D. Conway 0-3; J. O’Loughlin, B. Donoher, C. Og Greene, C. Rogers, D. Brennan 0-1 each.
CORK: K. O’Halloran; R. Carey, M. Shields, K. Harrington; S. O’Donoghue, D. Limrick, E. Cadogan; F. Goold, A. O’Sullivan (capt.); F. Lynch, C. Keane, P. Kerrigan; C. O’Neill, D. Goulding, S. Cahalane.
Subs: R. Leahy for Cahalane; S. McCarthy for Lynch; G. O’Shea for O’Sullivan.
LAOIS: C. Munnelly; C. Healy, M. Timmons, B. Meredith; S. Lawlor, J. O’Loughlin, N. Donoher; B. Quigley, C. Og Greene; D. Brennan, C. Rogers, S. O’Leary; MJ Tierney, S. O’Neill, P. Conway.
Subs: D. Kingston for O’Neill; I. Fleming for O’Leary.
Referee: V. Neary (Mayo).
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