With 40 minutes elapsed, Tracton led 1-12 to 0-10 after Frank Lynch’s goal had helped augment a two-point half-time lead. But from there to the end they were overpowered by the defeated 2011 finalists, who found an extra gear.
Alan Frahill-O’Connor’s goal with 18 minutes left was vital in Youghal’s resurgence as it provided a quick riposte to Lynch’s effort for Tracton, and with Leigh Desmond so accurate from frees they were soon ahead and held off their opponents. Indeed, but for three good saves by Tracton keeper Damian Walsh in the final quarter, Youghal’s passage to a meeting with Inniscarra would have been even more straightforward.
A chief factor in Youghal’s progression was that they could call upon different key players at different times. While Desmond was on song from frees throughout, captain Bill Cooper and Frahill-O’Connor came good in the second-half, when Nigel Roche’s introduction at midfield allowed for a successful rejigging of the attack.
In the first-half, their half-back line of Micheál Cronin, Conor Spillane and Barry Ring did well for long periods, but wayward shooting was Youghal’s problem. Apart from attackers Desmond and Brendan Ring, midfielder Damien Ring was the only player to find the target.
Tracton, though similarly reliant on the free-taking of Ronan Walsh, were that bit better overall in the opening period, as Kieran Lynch’s fine midfield play kept the ball moving and Gearóid Kingston, a late addition to the line-up, was very heavily involved at full-forward.
Cork panellist Michael O’Sullivan’s point, well set up by Billy Lynch, put them 0-8 to 0-5 in front in injury time, and while Desmond responded to that, Tom McGuinness was set to point from just inside the 45 when the half-time whistle went.
That two-point gap between the teams still pertained by the 37th minute, Tracton 0-11 to 0-9 in front, when wing-back Kieran Corrigan’s long clearance caught the Youghal defence. Walsh chased but while he was denied by a combination of Cronin and goalkeeper Richard Cunningham, Frank Lynch was there to divert the loose ball to the net.
Desmond replied immediately, but when O’Sullivan won Damian Walsh’s resultant puckout and pointed, Tracton seemed set to drive on. Frahill-O’Connor’s goal, engineered by Brendan Ring’s run, was the catalyst for Youghal to fight back, however, and Desmond, James O’Mahony, Brendan Ring and Damien Ring all pointed in the latter stages as they secured a last four spot.
Scorers for Youghal: L Desmond 0-9 (seven frees, one 65), A Frahill-O’Connor 1-2, B Ring 0-3 (two frees), D Ring, J O’Mahony 0-2 each.
Scorers for Tracton: R Walsh 0-10 (eight frees, one 65), F Lynch 1-1, M O’Sullivan 0-3, K Lynch, G Kingston 0-1 each.
YOUGHAL: R Cunningham; B O’Sullivan, J Grace, K Walsh; M Cronin, C Spillane, Barry Ring; B Cooper, D Ring; J O’Mahony, A Frahill-O’Connor, O Dempsey; Brendan Ring, B Moloney, L Desmond.
Subs: N Roche for Moloney (ht), C O’Mahony for Cronin (41), B Coleman for Walsh (59).
TRACTON: D Walsh; M Barry, K Corrigan, G Jagoe; R Cronin, S O’Sullivan, John Kingston; K Lynch, T McGuinness; Joe Kingston, B Lynch, M O’Sullivan; R Walsh, G Kingston, F Lynch.
Subs: J Good for B Lynch, C McGuinness for John Kingston (both 45), D O’Callaghan for T McGuinness (50).
Referee: D Daly (Brian Dillons).