CORK'S hero Mark Keane returned from Australia six weeks ago after completing his Aussie Rules season with Collingwood.
He needed to self-isolate first for the mandatory two-weeks and according to manager Ronan McCarthy 'Mark's back as long as we are'.
“The first thing is that Mark wanted to play. Secondly, we did our busy properly. We sought permission from Collingwood.
“We had no hesitation in bringing him in. Mark has a huge interest in Cork football, having played underage all the way up.
“Even when he was away Mark took a keen interest in the team and stays in touch with us.
“When he got back, he wanted to play and we brought in. It worked our brilliantly for us.
“The goal at the end shows what he's capable of producing and I think it was Tommy Walsh (another Aussie Rules exponent), who was under the dropping ball, too.
“Mark is a great target for long balls. He is also a very good passer of the ball and set-up a very important score earlier in the game.
“He has added quality to the panel and depth to the group,” McCarthy added.
Cork's reward is a Munster final in a fortnight against Tipperary, who also needed extra-time to squeeze past Limerick in the other semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday.
The counties met in Division 3 of the league during the year with Tipp scoring 0-21, but still coming up shy.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh is likely to be the venue on the basis the last championship tie between the counties was in Thurles a couple of years ago.
“We will have to get back down to earth very quickly, but I also think we have to enjoy our victories, particular in that nature. We beat a top, top side.
“Everyone in this group is 100 percent committed to Cork football and that hasn't been the case in the last four or five years.”
Keane was one of a number of youngsters making their senior debuts along with defenders Maurice Shanley and Sean Meehan and forward Colm O'Callaghan while Damien Gore and Paul Ring came off the bench.
McCarthy said he had no reservations about introducing so many youngsters, the product of last season's All-Ireland U20 triumph.
“I thought Sean had some debut at right half-back and he was outstanding.
“It's great that they're coming in on the back of their success and making such an impact straight away in a big game.
“We didn't see it as us coming in under the radar and ambushing anyone. All you had to do was look at our subs.”