Cork 2-10 Laois 0-15
An injury-time free from Daniel Goulding saw Cork take the Cadbury's All-Ireland U-21 football championship title for the first time since 1994 tonight, following a pulsating 2-10 to 0-15 win over Laois at Semple Stadium.
The sides were level on eight occasions during this game and it took that late Goulding point to seal victory.
Laois were left ruing their wides tally of 15 by the finish, which included a late chance to level the game from the 16-year-old Donie Kingston.
Both sides had needed replays to separate them at minor level three years ago and in the Under-21 championship last year. In the opening half of this game, it looked like another close affair was on the cards with the sides level on five occasions inside the opening 24 minutes.
Early nerves were certainly evident in the opening with Cork kicking two chances for scores wide of the target, while their midland counterparts had one chance of a score within the opening four minutes.
Remarkably Cork were not to kick wide of the target for the remainder of the half as clinical finishing helped to reap huge dividends for the Munster champions.
David Conway opened the scoring after six minutes for Laois and the brother of senior star Chris went on to score two further points over the remainder of the opening half, with defenders John O'Loughlin and Niall Donoher along with MJ Tierney also chipping in for the midlanders.
Points from Colm O'Neill, Goulding (0-3) and Fiachra Lynch ensured the sides were level at 0-5 apiece, six minutes before the interval, but Laois then hit a purple patch and pulled three points clear thanks to scores from Conway and Tierney (2) as injury-time approached.
However, Cork had the final say before the half-time whistle with a well taken goal from Goulding, the championship's top scorer, ensuring parity for his side by the interval at 1-5 to 0-8.
Laois notched the first point of the second half from Tierney but Goulding points from a '45' and a free ensured Cork regained the lead.
Goulding could have so easily been Cork's villain as he kicked two scorable chances wide in the second half and as Laois came good once more, they held a 0-14 to 1-9 lead with six minutes remaining thanks to points from Craig Rogers, the Cadbury's Hero of the Match, Tierney (0-3) and Donie Brennan.
A late Cork goal from Colm O'Neill levelled the tie once more and it was Goulding's late kick which helped steal victory at the death.
Scorers: Cork: D Goulding 1-6, (5f, 1 '45'), C O'Neill 1-1, F Lynch, S O'Donoghue, P Kerrigan 0-1 each.
Laois: MJ Tierney 0-7 (5f), D Conway 0-3, C Rogers, D Brennan, N Donoher, C Og Greene, J O'Loughlin 0-1 each.
CORK: K O Halloran; R Carey, M Shields, K Harrington; S O'Donoghue, D Limerick, E Cadogan; F Gould, A O'Sullivan; F Lynch, C Keane, P Kerrigan; C O'Neill, D Goulding, S Cahalane.
Subs used: R Leahy for Cahalane (41 mins), S McCarthy for Lynch (56), G O'Shea for Keane (both 56).
LAOIS: C Munnelly; C Healy, M Timmons, B Meredith; S Lalor, J O'Loughlin, N Donoher; B Quigley, C Og Greene; D Brennan, C Rogers, S O Leary; MJ Tierney, S O'Neill, D Conway.
Subs used: D Kingston for O'Neill (38 mins), I Fleming for O'Leary (44).
Referee: Vincent Neary (Mayo)