By John Fogarty
Mayo 5-7 Cork 1-14
Magic from Conor Loftus and Liam Irwin brought Mayo U21 All-Ireland glory for the first time since 2006.
The pair each scored 2-2 in an epic encounter in Cusack Park watched by 7,567 people.
Cork had been rocked by two Mayo injury-time goals in the first half and were hit again for a third when Loftus finished impeccably in the 37th minute after being laid on by Michael Plunkett.
However, a Peter Kelleher goal, fisted in from a 45, brought Cork within two and a Brian Coakley free, earned by Kelleher, levelled the game with five minutes of normal time remaining.
Yet there was more to come from Mayo as Loftus, this time with his left foot, found the top corner again in the 59th minute after intercepting a short kick-out and Irwin put the lid on it fisting past Anthony Casey from distance shortly afterwards.
For a team who were misfiring for most of the first half, registering nine wides (13 in total), and going 13 minutes without a score, Mayo’s finish to the first half was thrilling.
Scoring 2-1 in injury-time, their first goal came when Plunkett squared a hand-pass to a ghosting Diarmuid O’Connor to palm the ball to the net.
Irwin then added a point from a long-range free to put Mayo ahead, 1-5 to 0-7, before he struck a score under the bar after O’Connor had turned over the bar. Although the move threatened to break down, Plunkett was again on hand to provide the assist.
Cork were rattled having looked so composed against the breeze up to those three additional minutes. Between the 19th and 26th minutes, they hit five unanswered points, two of them coming from Coakley who with Peter Kelleher was causing havoc inside.
Scorers for Mayo: L. Irwin (0-1 free, 0-1 45), C. Loftus (0-2 frees) (2-2 each); D. O’Connor (1-0); M. Plunkett (0-2); M. Ruane (0-1).
Scorers for Cork: B. Coakley (0-5, 3 frees); S. O’Donoghue (0-4, 3 frees, 1 45); P. Kelleher (1-0); R. Harkin (0-2); S. Powter, R. O’Toole, M Hurley (0-1 each).
MAYO: M. Flanagan; E. O’Donoghue, S. Cunniffe, D. Kenny; S. Akram, M. Hall, J. Kelly; M. Ruane, S. Coen; F. Boland, C. Loftus, D. O’Connor; L. Irwin, M Plunkett, F. Duffy.
Subs for Mayo: J. Carr for F. Duffy (44); D. Ó Dúinín for S. White (black, 45); B. Duffy for J. Kelly, M. Lyons for M. Plunkett (both 56).
CORK: A. Casey; J. Mullins, M. McSweeney, K. Histon; K. Flahive, S. Cronin, E. Lavers; S. White, R. O’Toole; S. O’Donoghue, S. Powter, R. Harkin; B. Coakley, P. Kelleher, M. Hurley.
Subs for Cork: S. O’Leary for R O’Toole (39); C. Kiely for R. Harkin (53); S. Sherlock for M. Hurley (58); D. Quinn for M. McSweeney (60+2).
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh)