THE Cork U20s gave Rebel supporters a much-needed boost with a thrilling victory over Limerick.
Pat Ryan's charges secured a slot in the Bord Gáis Energy Munster U20 final against Tipp or Waterford in dramatic fashion, their stunning extra-time efforts ending in a resounding 2-29 to 0-21 win.
It was a massive boost for Cork hurling, given the minors were defeated 2-19 to 0-13 in Thurles on Saturday after a very disappointing second-half showing.
The Cork U20s were the better team for the long spells at the LIT Gaelic Grounds but Limerick battled back late on. For Pat Ryan, it was an emotional rollercoaster, with the likes of Colin O'Brien, Brian Hayes and Shane O'Regan hitting key scores off the bench.
“We were fresh coming off [after 60 minutes] and we knew that we had a very strong panel. Fellas came on and hurled really well. There is a lot of our guys there that are only 18 yet and got a game so we are delighted with that.
“We are delighted with the win and delighted with the attitude. We asked the lads to go out and respect the jersey and I think they do that for the 80 minutes. I think we hurled very well in patches, definitely hurled very well in extra time and hopefully, that will stand to us going forward for the Munster final.”
Special credit was given to Colin O'Brien, especially his three sidelines in a burst in extra time.
“Colin has got fierce talent. People see him as just a big man and he was very disappointed not to start but look the competition here is very hard for places and he has been going very well in training but look, sidelines are something that he can do.
"Colin is a very talented fella coming from a small club Liscarroll/Churchtown. He is a great young fella.”
The win sees Ryan and his young squad through to the provincial final that is down for decision a couple of days before Christmas Day.
Obviously, the club championship was great in Cork this year and a lot of fellas got a lot of hurling but there were fellas that didn’t get that much either.
"Some are 20 and this was their last chance to get to play U20 so when they go out and play like that you can see what it means to them.
“That is all good for Cork hurling but this is just one step and now we will have to see if it is Tipperary or Waterford on December 23 and we will take it from there.”