Cork made it through to the All-Ireland U20 final with a win over Kilkenny in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, powered by an outstanding Tommy O’Connell display.
Cork defended the scoreboard end in the first half, and though Kilkenny were aided by a slight breeze Cork dominated early, hitting three points in the opening five minutes.
Cork’s Shane O’Regan almost had a ninth-minute goal but Tommy O’Connell pointed the resulting 65. Kilkenny opened their account with an Eoin Cody point on 13 minutes, with Niall Brassil adding a free just afterwards: 0-4 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter.
From the puck-out from another Brassil free O’Connell won the ball and soloed through, cracking home a goal from 20 metres; Evan Shefflin pointed on the resumption, 1-4 to 0-4.
Brian Turnbull (free) and Cody swapped points, then O’Connell (free) and Brassil swapped points, meaning Cork kept that goal ahead. Both sides’ shooting then deteriorated somewhat, with a Cody free and Brassil point ending a sequence of wides and making it a one-point game at the half, 1-6 to 0-8.
Conor Heary levelled the game on the resumption and a Cody free nudged Kilkenny ahead before O’Connell converted a Cork free and then pointed from long range. A Cody free on 37 minutes levelled the game again, 1-8 to 0-11.
Two more O’Connell points restored Cork’s advantage once again heading to the three-quarter stage, when Cody pointed a Kilkenny free: 1-10 to 0-12.
Ryan Walsh pointed for Cork and O’Connell added a 65 and free to put Cork four clear. Sub Simon Kennefick and Ryan Walsh added two more entering the last ten minutes, and it was 1-15 to 0-12.
Cody added another free for the Cats but O’Connell responded in kind and Cork held out for the win.
Scorers for Kilkenny: E. Cody (0-6)(5 frees); N. Brassil (0-4)(2 frees), A. Brennan, E. Shefflin and C. Heary (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cork: T. O’Connell (1-10)(6 frees, 2 65s); B. Turnbull (frees), R. Walsh (0-2 each); S. O’Regan, S. Kennefick (0-1 each).
KILKENNY: D. Mason, J. Brennan, C. Flynn, M. Butler, C. Heary, M. Carey, D. Blanchfield, C. Murphy, E. Shefflin (c), E. O’Shea, N. Brassil, A. Mullen, S. Ryan, A. Brennan, E. Cody.
Subs: S. Donnelly for Brennan (HT); C. Brennan for Ryan (40); J. Molloy for Murphy (45)
CORK: G. Collins, C. O’Callaghan, J. Keating (c), E. Roche, G. Millerick, S. O’Leary Hayes, R. Downey, R. Walsh, D. Connery, S. Twomey, B. Roche, T. O’Carroll, B. Turnbull, S. O’Regan, P. Power.
Subs: S. Kennefick for Connery (42); E. Sheehan for Power (45); B. Murphy for O’Regan (60); C. Hanafin for Twomey (62); J. Copps for O’Callaghan (65).
Referee: J. Murphy (Limerick)