Cork conquered a heroic 14-man Dublin side in an epic Croke Park battle to reach the All-Ireland hurling final.
A wonderful sporting occasion thrilled and tormented 62,092 supporters at GAA Headquarters, with Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s Rebels taking the spoils in a gripping finish, but not before the sides had been level on an amazing 15 occasions.
A game played at blinding pace and with delightful skills and unrelenting passion lived up to all the pre-match hype, but there was to be a sad end to the fairy-tale for a Dublin side bidding to reach the final for the first time since 1961.
Dublin faced an almost impossible task when forced to play for more than 20 minutes with 14 men, following the dismissal of Ryan O’Dwyer on a second booking late in the third quarter.
Now Cork will take on the winners of next weekend’s semi-final between Limerick and Clare in an all-Munster decider on September 8.
Danny Sutcliffe’s early point as cancelled out by a Patrick Horgan’s free, as Cork quickly picked up the pace to go ahead with scores from Conor Lehane, and Luke O’Farrell.
But Dublin, with Conal Keaney leading by example with phenomenal workrate, were back in front by the tenth minute, Paul Ryan, David O’Callaghan and Keaney all finding the target.
Rebel midfielder Lorcan McLoughlin burst into explosive action, powering through for three thunderous points from play.
The Munster men continued to press forward as they imposed themselves on the contest, but some terrific defending kept them at bay, particularly from Peter Kelly and Liam Rushe, who was having a terrific battle with Pa Cronin.
The Dubs in turn had their own spell, making it count with scores from David Treacy, Sutcliffe and David ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan.
But after Patrick Horgan brought the sides level for the seventh time, Cork pushed on again, skilful pair Lehane and Seamus Harnedy slotted over points.
Inevitably, a cracking contest took another twisty on the half-hour when Ryan slipped a clever pass inside for David Treacey to boot the ball to the net for the first goal Anthony Nash has conceded this season.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s men bounced back to go level for a tenth time through Cronin, and went in for the break with a 0-15 to 1-11 lead, thanks to Daniel Kearney’s stoppage time point.
But it was Dublin who lifted their game yet higher on the restart, with Ryan O’Dwyer, Shane Durkin and Sutcliffe easing tem back in front.
Keaney’s ball-winning exploits helped them maintain the upper hand, and they were denied a goal when Nash pulled off a superb save from O’Dwyer.
Conor O’Sullivan and Shane O’Neill defended courageously as Cork battled to turn the game back in their favour, and their efforts were assisted by O’Dwyer’s dismissal on a second yellow card in the 49th minute.
Goalkeeper Nash blasted over a couple of long range frees and Horgan continued to strike accurately from frees.
Dublin were far from finished, however, and went level for a remarkable 15th time through Ryan, who recovered from a couple of misses.
The decisive score game in the 66th minute when Horgan reacted sharply to net off the stick of goalkeeper Gary Maguire, who failed to collect cleanly from a long delivery.
G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte, S Hiney, L Rushe, M Carton, J McCaffrey (0-1), J Boland (0-1), C Keaney (0-2), R O'Dwyer (0-1), D Sutcliffe (0-4), D O'Callaghan (0-2), P Ryan (0-6, 5f, 1 ’65), D Treacy (1-1).
S Durkin for (0-1) Hiney, M Schutte for Treacy, E Dillon for O’Callaghan, R Trainor for P Schutte
A Nash (0-3, 3f), S McDonnell, S O'Neill, C O'Sullivan, T Kenny, C Joyce, W Egan, L Mc Loughlin (0-3), D Kearney (0-1), S Harnedy (0-2), J Coughlan (0-1), P Cronin (0-1), L O'Farrell (0-2), P Horgan (1-7, 0-5f), C Lehane (0-3).
S White for Kenny, C Naughton for Coughlan, S Moylan (0-1) for Lehane
J Owens (Wexford).