Cork 0-14 Offaly 3-10
OFFALY stunned Cork to book their place in the All-Ireland U20 football final following a deserved win in Portlaoise on Saturday.
A courageous second-half effort by Cork, who trailed by nine points after 33 minutes just came up short as they whittled it down to two entering four minutes’ injury-time.
But, Offaly pounced for a third goal, 30 seconds from the end, to finally end Cork’s resistance and it reflected a mirror-image of the chief difference between the sides.
The pace yet again of Cormac Egan created the opportunity for Jack Bryant to slam home his second goal to the delight of the large Offaly contingent in the 1,400 crowd.
Cork were lethargic in the first half, but returned a different side to score 11 points as Ciaran O’Sullivan, Colin Walsh and David Buckley's frees helped them back into the contest.
Yet, there were dealt another cruel blow just before the second water break as Cathal Flynn supplied a cool finish for Offaly’s second goal and a 2-9 to 0-8 lead.
Cork hit three points on the spin to cancel out the goal and while they restricted Offaly to a point, Bryant’s second goal settled the outcome.
Offaly led by 0-3 to 0-2 at the first water break and there were worrying early indicators of their power, speed and intensity.
Captain Cathal Donoghue was yellow-carded after just three minutes for a late hit on Conor McGoldrick as Dara Dorgan opened the scoring from a free moments later.
A Morgan Tyan free levelled matters before Donoghue edged Offaly in front for the first time before Ciaran O’Sullivan equalised with a fine long-range effort for 0-2 apiece after 12 minutes.
The loud Offaly faithful appealed for a penalty after Conor McGoldrick tangled with Aaron Kellaghan but referee Liam Devenney wasn’t interested.
Still, the speed of Egan was too much for the Cork defence as he punched over a third point just before the short break.
What transpired after the interlude, however, rocked Cork as Offaly took complete control and but for some terrible finishing would have been out of sight even at this early juncture.
In the space of seconds both full-back Tom Hyland and Bryant found themselves in the clear only to drag their shots wide of the target.
Cork’s position worsened with the black carding of wing-back Adam Walsh-Murphy for a foul on Cathal Flynn after 21 minutes with Bryant converting the resulting free.
Four minutes later, Offaly eventually scored the goal that had been threatening as Bryant scored from close range following a fine right-wing cross by Fionn Dempsey for a 1-5 to 0-2 lead and Cork in deep trouble.
Further points from corner-back Lee Pearson and Bryant increased the advantage to eight points with Cork not having scored since the 12th minute.
Michael O’Neill’s free in the second of three added-on minutes almost a 20-minute barren spell to reflect their problems, 1-7 to 0-3 at the break.