Armagh's U21s easily overcome Cork

Cork 2-10 Armagh 1-19

Cork 2-10 Armagh 1-19

Peter Rafferty's Armagh side secured the Orchard county's first ever appearance in an All-Ireland U21 football final, as they ran out easy winners over Cork in today's first semi-final at Pearse Stadium.

The Ulster champions, whose last fixture was their provincial final win over Derry in May, dusted off the cobwebs as eight of their starters bagged points in a confident display.

Their direct footballing style saw them hit the Galway ground running, and corner forward Michael McNamee helped himself to a second minute goal, as his lobbed finish eluded Cork net minder Kevin Murphy.

Cork's leading target man Kevin O'Sullivan soon replied, but points from Brian Mallon and another from McNamee, who ended the first half injured but with a 1-2 tally, saw Armagh into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead.

It was not all one-way traffic, as Armagh goalkeeper Paul Wilson was forced into a great fisted save from Rob Long on 12 minutes.

Half-forward Gregory Loughran pointed in acres of space four minutes later, for a 1-7 to 0-4 Armagh lead, but the Ulster side were to score just once more in the half as the Rebels roared back.

Tadhg Twomey was central to this as he set up Cian O'Riordan for a quick point, then saw his goal shot blocked in and over Wilson by wing back Aaron Kernan, on 26 minutes as the deficit was reduced to 1-6 to 1-8.

Cork ended the half just one behind, as O'Sullivan kicked over his fourth free.

It was all Armagh in the second half though, as they outscored Cork by 11 points to three, until O'Sullivan rifled home an injury time penalty.

Stephen Kernan, another son of senior boss Joe, grabbed a free and a '45, substitute Peter Stevenson struck two from play, and senior star Andy Mallon and giant midfielder Gareth Swift also pointed well as Armagh rounded off a superb win.

It took Cork fourteen minutes to score through John Hayes, whose shot pinged off the upright and over.

Corner back Gareth Smyth coughed up a late foul on O'Sullivan for the penalty, but the game was done and dusted.

CORK: K Murphy; M Prout, D O’Donovan, B Crowley; N O’Riordan, P Nealon, E O’Connor; D Coughlan, S O’Sullivan; C O’Riordan, P Kelly, J Hayes; R Long, T Twomey, K O’Sullivan.

Subs used: A O’Connor for Coughlan (20 mins), K Murphy for O’Sullivan (38), D Byrnes for Long (47), R Hoare for Kelly (54)

Yellow card: N O’Riordan (27)

ARMAGH: P Wilson; G Smyth, F Moriarty, A Mallon; A Kernan, C McKeever, B McDonald; M Mackin, G Swift; G Loughran, S Kernan, P Toal; M McNamee, R Austin, B Mallon.

Subs used: P Stevenson for McNamee (30 mins), B Toner for S Kernan (50), P Duffy for McDonald (54) Yellow card: F Moriarty (57)

Scorers:

Cork: K O’Sullivan 1-4 (1-0 pen, 4f), T Twomey 1-1, P Kelly 0-2, R Long, C O’Riordan, J Hayes 0-1 each

Armagh: M McNamee 1-2, R Austin, G Loughran, P Toal (2f) 0-3 each, P Stevenson, S Kernan (1f, 1 ’45) 0-2 each, B Mallon, A Mallon, G Swift, B Toner (1f) 0-1 each

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