Keane cracker proves decisive as Cork go through

A CRACKING goal by centre-forward Cathrach Keane 10 minutes into the second half proved decisive in this thrilling Cadburys All-Ireland U-21 FC semi-final replay at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, on Saturday.

The victory sets up a repeat of the 1994 final between Cork and Mayo in Ennis next Sunday (2.30pm).

Keane was a late replacement for Brian Cotter and apart from his goal, he made a telling contribution as both sides produced another magnificent match which swung one way, then another, before the Munster champions were forced to defend late in the game as Laois made a determined effort to stave off defeat.

Cork had a number of players who were magnificent and whose contribution was vital to their victory. The aerial dominance of Alan O’Connor and Padraig Kelly meant Cork won the midfield exchanges on this occasion, while up front the superb high fielding of Fintan Goold was a sight to behold.

He rose repeatedly to win vital possession and was deservedly named man of the match, while Daniel Goulding’s three points from play were crucial.

“Character and heart won it for us,” said a jubilant team coach Tony Leahy. “All season I’ve spoken about the character of this particular group of players and today you saw that character shine through again.

“We went in on level terms after playing with the wind, missed a penalty just before the break, kicked some dreadful wides and it looked as if we had blown it. A lot of other teams would have died at that point, but we are a team that, when the chips are down, we can respond.”

Laois coach Sean Dempsey felt his side’s failure to break down the Cork defence was the principle reason why they lost.

“We failed to put away the chances we created, but you have to hand it to Cork. Despite missing that penalty just before half-time, they didn’t allow their heads to drop and came back at us strongly in the second half. That’s the difference between a good team and a great one.

“You measure yourself against teams like Cork and I’d like to think we did very well against them over the two games.”

Cork played with the wind in the opening half during which the sides were level twice. Both defences were very solid with the result that there was a shortage of scores.

It took the Munster champions 12 minutes to add to their opening 9th-minute point, and coming up to half-time they looked in trouble, trailing 0-4 to 0-3 before Goulding won a penalty.

John Hayes’ effort along the ground went wide and they were fortunate to go in at half-time on level terms after Paul O’Flynn kicked the equalising point in the 31st minute.

Nothing seemed to go right for Hayes, who drove a scoreable free off the upright early in the second half, but with Goold and O’Connor lording it at midfield, Cork pinned Laois in their own half and were finally rewarded with Keane’s cracking goal to lead 1-5 to 0-5.

With nine minutes to go, Cork held a four point lead but in those gripping closing minutes, Laois scored two before they eventually ran out of time.

Scorers: Cork: C. Keane 1-0; D. Goulding 0-3; P. O’ Flynn 0-2; J. Hayes (free), F. Goold 0-1 each. Laois: C. Kelly (Stradbally) 0-4 (0-1 free); M. Tierney 0-2; C. Kelly (St. Josephs), K. Meaney 0-1 each.

CORK: K. O’Halloran; R. Carey C. Murphy, S. O’Donoghue; D. Limrick, M. Shields, E. Cadogan; A. O’Connor, P. Kelly; F. Goold, C. Keane, P. Kerrigan; D. Goulding, P. O’Flynn, J. Hayes.

Subs: J. Murphy for Hayes; F. Lynch for O’Flynn.

LAOIS: C. Gorman; C. Healy, M. Timmons, R. Stapleton; C. Rogers, C. Ryan, P. O’Leary; B. Quigley, D. Murphy; C. Bergin, D. Brennan, P. McNulty; M. Tierney, C. Kelly (Stradbally), C. Kelly (St. Josephs).

Subs: N. Donagher for Bergin; K. Meaney for Murphy; S. O’Leary for McNulty; D. Strong for Kelly (St. Joseph’s).

Referee: J. White (Donegal).

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