A hat-trick of Mark Cronin goals decorated Cork’s comfortable Munster U17 football semi-final victory over Limerick at sunny Pairc Ui Rinn last evening.
The young Nemo Rangers star scored twice from the penalty spot with unstoppable shots to either corner and captain Ben Murphy also showed how with a couple of crackers of his own.
Cork followed up their 6-24 to 0-1 first-round victory over Waterford in Dungarvan with a 24-point victory here to progress to the inaugural final in a fortnight.
They set out their stall from the start with towering midfielder Mark Keane catching the throw-in and soloing through to land the opening point after just 10 seconds.
By the 10th minute the lead had stretched to 1-4 without reply after Cronin expertly tucked away a penalty with a cool, left-footed shot to the right of keeper Cian Walsh after he was fouled himself.
Limerick eventually broke their duck with a pointed free from Rory O’Brien moments later but it didn’t disrupt the trend as Cork surged further in front.
Murphy grabbed the second goal after 16 minutes with a neat finish to the far corner after Keane again showed his aerial expertise with another majestic take.
And when Jack Murphy extended the advantage to 2-6 to 0-1 with a point three minutes later, it ensured all six starting Cork forwards had managed to get their names on the score sheet.
Limerick kept trying, despite facing the inevitable conclusion, with midfielder Barry Coleman landing their fourth point after a fine catch around the middle and subsequent strong run.
But, just when they had thought they had weathered the first-half storm, Cork pounced for a third goal a minute from the interval.
Midfielder Neil O’Sullivan dropped a dangerous ball in around the square, where the alert Cronin sensed his opportunity by out-jumping his marker to punch home, leaving Cork well on their way to the final, holding a 3-8 to 0-4 interval advantage.
There was little respite for the visitors on the resumption either with Cork claiming their fourth goal after 34 minutes.
Ronan Dalton picked out McMahon with a super pass only for the corner-forward to be fouled by Liam Kennedy and Cronin picked the left corner of Walsh’s net on this occasion.
Despite O’Brien landing Limerick’s sixth point, Cork went on another scoring spree, including a smashing fifth goal from Murphy, whose bullet-like drive nestled in the top corner of the net, 5-12 to 0-6 after 43 minutes.
Limerick substitute Liam Wilson found a way through to score a consolation goal, the first Cork conceded, though it was never going to impact on the outcome.
As both sides emptied their benches, Cork finished by claiming the last six points via five different scorers, a Dalton free beginning the sequence, which ended with Murphy’s second point of the evening.
Scorers for Cork: M Cronin 3-2 (2-0 pen, 0-1 f), B Murphy 2-3 (0-1 f), R Dalton 0-3 (0-1 f), M Keane, C McMahon and J Murphy 0-2 each, F Herlihy, N O’Sullivan, K Murphy, L Twohig 0-1 each.
CORK: C Lankford (Kilavullen); J Corcoran (Nemo Rangers), D O’Mahony (Knocknagree), E Murray (Dohenys); D Lardner (Fermoy), G Lardner (do), A Coleman (Nemo Rangers); M Keane (Mitchelstown), N O’Sullivan (Adrigole); F Herlihy (Dohenys), B Murphy (Na Piarsaigh), captain, J Murphy (Eire Og); M Cronin (Nemo Rangers), C McMahon (Kilshannig), R Dalton (Nemo Rangers).
Subs: K Murphy (Glanmire) for Coleman 33, A Hennessy (St Michael’s) for Cronin and C Crowley (Glanmire) for Keane both 44, S Desmond (Clondrohid) for O’Mahony 49, L Twohig (Aghinagh) for McMahon 53, J Kelleher (Glanmire) for D Lardner 54.