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Mark Coleman celebrates following the Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21 final. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Mark Coleman celebrates following the Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21 final. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Coleman reveals the Cork U21s were driven to right a wrong going back to minor level

MARK COLEMAN might have two Munster senior medals and an All-Star to his name but he was a young man on a mission for the U21s in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night.

The 20-year-old ran the show as a deep-lying midfielder for Denis Ring’s side who wiped Tipperary out with Robbie O’Flynn and Jack O’Connor firing the goals to go with a stunning haul of 23 points.

Shane Kingston struck for 0-4 against Tipp. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Shane Kingston struck for 0-4 against Tipp. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It was the Rebels’ first title in the grade since 2007 and the county’s first Munster success in the new stadium, and it couldn’t have been more emphatic: Cork 2-23 Tipperary 1-13. Next month they face Wexford in the All-Ireland semi-final after the Yellow Bellies lost the Leinster final to a last-gasp Galway goal in extra-time.

Coleman, the TG4 Man of the Match, said the victory over Tipp was about making up for their disappointment at minor in 2015.

“We’ve performed at senior but we had to right a wrong, going back to when we were minor when we lost to Limerick and we haven’t got momentum going at underage since.

“We’d 17 wides (in 2015) and we should have won, but we’ve grown a lot as a team since then. We’ve gained experience and we’ve a lot more leaders since then.

“There’s still a bit to work on, we made mistakes and let Tipp in for goal chances. We’ve two wins at U21 now and it’s nice to get a trophy with your own age group.”

Coleman explained it was extra special to shine for the Leeside fans who made up the bulk of the 6,732 in attendance, for a second Munster victory in four days after beating Clare last Sunday. Cork lost Darragh Fitzgibbon in the first half; the flying midfielder had been ill coming into the senior decider.

Cork manager Denis Ring has words with Darragh Fitzgibbon. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork manager Denis Ring has words with Darragh Fitzgibbon. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Coleman, Shane Kingston and Declan Dalton were among the standouts even without Fitzgibbon, while Conor Cahalane, Damien’s younger brother, excelled after coming on as a sub.

“We got great support. The goal the whole time has to be an All-Ireland but you can’t buy these experiences and we’ve to use that.”

The Blarney native was at the heart of many of Cork’s best plays, as well as shooting 0-3, but he felt the tackling of the forwards was key.

Tipperary’s Jake Morris is put under pressure by Mark Coleman. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Tipperary’s Jake Morris is put under pressure by Mark Coleman. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

“I was in midfield, drifting in and out protecting the half-backs and driving up the field when I could. It was enjoyable, but the lads around me were working so hard I was able to sit deeper. The work-rate of the forwards made it easier because then the quality of their clearances were poor.”

He was particularly satisfied to deliver for the management team of Ring, coach Johnny Dwyer, and selectors John Mortell, Liam Martin, and Fergus Ryan, given their connection since minor. Ring and his backroom did secure a minor trophy last summer, Cork’s first in nine years, but their bond with Coleman and co remains strong.

The Cork U21 management at the final whistle. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
The Cork U21 management at the final whistle. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

“They know everybody’s game and how to manage each player. It’s extremely enjoyable. When you’re playing with the seniors — I wouldn’t say it’s pressure — but it’s a lot more intense.”