CORK should take plenty of encouragement from past performances going into the Lion’s Den that is Austin Stack Park in Tralee for Monday’s Munster U20 final against Kerry at 7.30pm.
The Kingdom are notoriously difficult to beat in their own backyard and the north Kerry venue has developed into a fortress for all county teams in the green and gold.
But, visiting sides have managed to breach the fortress on occasions and while Kerry won the first U20 decider there in 2020 with a convincing 0-17 to 1-9 victory, Cork’s previous journeys at U21 provide optimism.
Indeed, the previous three finals there were all won by Cork teams, who just had a single-point victory at the end of very competitive tussles, reflecting just how tight and close these games tend to be.
In 2016, Cork edged a thriller by 3-9 to 1-14 with substitute Cian Dorgan kicking the winning point in injury-time.
The Rebels led by 2-4 to 0-7 at half-time following goals from Brian Coakley after 11 minutes and Sean Powter, set-up by Sean O’Donoghue, eight minutes later.
The third goal from Man-of-the-Match Sean White came at a critical stage entering the closing quarter after Kerry threatened to reel in Cork’s advantage.
And still it required Dorgan’s composure late in the game to get Cork over the line and finally break Kerry’s dogged resistance.
B Coakley 1-1 (0-1 f), S Powter, S White 1-0 each, R Harkin, M Hurley 0-2 each, P Kelleher, C Dorgan, S O’Donoghue, S Sherlock 0-1 each.
A Casey (Kiskeam); M McSweeney (Newcestown), J Mullins (Éire Óg), D Quinn (St Finbarrs); K Flahive (Douglas), S Cronin (Nemo Rangers), K Histon (Cobh); S White (Clonakilty), S O’Leary (Bantry Blues); S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), S Powter (Douglas), R Harkin (Mallow); B Coakley (Carrigaline), P Kelleher (Kilmichael), M Hurley (Castlehaven).
S Sherlock (St Finbarr’s) for Powter, injured half-time, D Ó Duinnín (Cill na Martra) for O’Donoghue 45; C Dorgan (Ballincollig) for Coakley 50; C Kiely (Ballincollig) for Quinn 51; E Lavers (Dohenys) for O’Leary 52.
Four years earlier, Cork needed extra-time to get the better of the neighbours, winning by 2-12 to 1-14, when current interim senior manager John Cleary was at the helm.
They led by 1-5 to 0-5 at the break, Donal Óg Hodnett bagging the all-important goal, but Kerry forced extra-time during which Luke Connolly’s goal fired Cork six points clear only for the home side to come within a point before the final whistle rescued Cork.
B Hurley 0-4 (0-2 f), D Óg Hodnett, L Connolly 1-1 each, D MacEoin 0-2, A Cronin, J Wall, R Deane, J O’Rourke 0-1 each.
J Mellet (Carrigaline); D O’Donovan (Ilen Rovers), D Cahalane (Castlehaven), A Cronin (Nemo Rangers); J Cronin (Lisgoold), T Clancy (Clonakilty), J Wall (Kilbrittain); R Deane (Bantry Blues), E Healy (Aghada); K Hallissey (Eire Og), D Og Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa), J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers); L Connolly (Nemo Rangers), M Sugrue (Bandon), B Hurley (Castlehaven).
Subs: D Nation (Nemo Rangers) for Healy 48, C O’Sullivan (Clyda Rovers) for Clancy 49, A Cadogan (Douglas) for Sugrue 56, D MacEoin (Ilen Rovers) for Hallissey, 59, D Drake (Carrigaline) for O’Rourke and B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs) for Wall, extra-time.
In 2004, Kevin O’Sullivan (Ilen Rovers) emerged as the hero after kicking the winning point in injury-time to give Cork a 0-13 to 0-12 victory under the management of Tony Leahy, whose side led 0-7 to 0-6 at the interval.
Cork had to produce a storming finish after Kerry led by four at the three-quarter stage with John Hayes contributing 0-3 from play.
And still it required a magnificent catch under his own crossbar by midfielder Seamus O’Sullivan to keep out a Bryan Sheehan ’45 in the closing act.
K O’Sullivan 0-6 (0-3 f, 0-1 45), J Hayes 0-3, C O’Riordan 0-2 f, N O’Riordan, R Long 0-1 each.
K Murphy (Boherbue); M Prout (Shamrocks), D Óg O’Donovan (St Nick’s), captain, B Crowley (Aghada); N O’Riordan (Glenville), P Nealon (O’Donovan Rossa), E O’Connor (Kildorrery); S O’Sullivan (Dromtarriffe), D Coughlan (Ilen Rovers); C O’Riordan (Mallow), P Kelly (Ballincollig), J Hayes (Carbery Rangers); R Long (O’Donovan Rossa), T Twomey (Newcestown), K O’Sullivan (Ilen Rovers).
K Murphy (Erin’s Own) for Twomey, D Burns (Castlehaven) for Kelly, A O’Connor (St Colum’s) for Coughlan.