Nemo Rangers will contest their third Cork U21 FC final in four seasons following a nine-point semi-final triumph over Aghada in Carrigtwohill on Saturday.
Nemo began this clash without the injured Stephen Cronin, though he was introduced for the second half, while Aghada were shorn of captain Kane Looney.
The experience of Paul O’Donovan’s side was decisive as Nemo rattled off 2-3 without reply in the final quarter, with Barry Madden pilfering both goals. Madden was superb for the winners, as was Ryan Kennedy, scorer of 0-6 including three well-executed frees.
But it was Chiedozie Ogbene’s performance that really illuminated the tie as the midfielder’s athleticism and exemplary use of possession were crucial for Nemo.
Courageous Aghada, however, were still in the game until Madden swept the ball to Jack Hayes’ net on 55 minutes, extending Nemo’s lead to 1-12 to 0-9.
Ogbene, two minutes later, teed up Madden to unleash a rasping drive to the corner to compound Aghada’s woes.
Jack Donovan increased Nemo’s advantage to 10 points, 2-13 to 0-9, before Stephen Murphy registered a consolation free for Eoin O’Neill’s charges.
Aghada led at half-time 0-7 to 0-6, albeit having been backed by a strong wind. With Kennedy to the fore with three points, Nemo had led 0-5 to 0-2 in front inside 13 minutes. But Aghada roared back with points from Shane Bennett and two Stephen Murphy beauties to level at 0-5 apiece.
Kevin O’Donovan edged Nemo in front once more however Stafford and Conor O’Driscoll secured Aghada’s interval cushion.
But Aghada added just 0-3 in the second half with Bennett and Berry (free) also registering for O’Neill’s outfit.
Conor Horgan, scorer of 0-2, had a 50th minute penalty saved by Hayes, who also thwarted the attacker’s follow-up. But Nemo’s class shone thereafter.
B Madden (2-2), R Kennedy (0-6, 3 frees), C Horgan, J Donovan (0-2 each), K O’Donovan (0-1).
S Murphy (0-3, 1 free), A Stafford, S Bennett (0-2 each), J Looney, C O’Driscoll (0-1 each, A Berry (0-1 free).
M Aodh Martin (capt); D Barrett, C Madden, N Murphy; R McCarthy, D Kerins, B O’Connor; A O’Donovan, C Ogbene; K O’Donovan, C Horgan, E Compagno; C Goold, B Madden, R Kennedy.
S Cronin for Goold (h-t), K O’Donovan for Compagno (44), T O’Sullivan for A O’Donovan (57), R McCarthy for J Donovan (60).
J Hayes; E Leahy, M Gilroy, A Butler; K O’Donoghue, J O’Donoghue, A Murphy; D Creedon, C O’Driscoll; A Stafford, A Berry, S Murphy; J Farmer, J Looney, S Bennett.
C O’Driscoll for A Murphy (inj, 33), K O’Hanlon for Creedon (41), J Tynan for Berry (b c, 52), M Healy for Butler (56), J Ryan for Stafford (59).
Dave Murnane (Macroom).