All-Ireland U21 FC semi-final: Dubs march on

April 21, 2012

Dublin's Mark Schutte up against Ruairi Deane of Cork during the Cadbury All-Ireland U21FC semi-final at Portlaoise ©INPHO/James Crombie
Dublin are through to the Cadbury All-Ireland U21FC final after beating Cork by 3-11 to 0-14 in Portlaoise.

Two goals from full forward Philip Ryan - one from the penalty spot - propelled Jim Gavin's charges into a comfortable 2-5 to 0-7 half-time lead. The Dubs had recovered well after trailing by 0-5 to 0-1 after eleven minutes.

The Rebels led by two points to one after five minutes, the scores coming from wing forward John O'Rourke and corner man Brian Hurley (free), with Ryan momentarily drawing the winners level in between.

The gap increased as Bandon clubman Mark Sugrue floated over Cork's third after a cleverly-worked free and captain Brian Og Hodnett boomed over an excellent fourth off his left boot.

Jack McCaffrey hit an upright at one end and Hurley struck the crossbar at the other before following up with a superb point to make it 0-5 to 0-1. Gary Sweeney fired over Dublin's second point and midfielder Daniel Byrne closed the gap to two.

In the 15th minute, Dublin full forward Ryan excellently dispatched a penalty to the left of the net with his left foot to complete the comeback - 1-3 to 0-5. It was just as well the ball ended up in the net as play had been called back for the penalty after Ciaran Kilkenny tipped the ball over the line - but Daniel O'Donovan had touched it on the ground.

The confident Ryan followed up with a sumptuous '45' to double the margin and Kevin Hallissey responded with a Rebel free on 19 minutes. But three minutes later, Emmet O Conghaile got forward from the middle of the field to strike a magnificent point off his left foot.

In the 23rd minute, Dublin carved the Cork defence open and Ryan rounded the goalkeeper to roll the ball to an empty net for his second three-pointer - 2-5 to 0-6. Again, the Leesiders replied with a Hallissey free.

O'Rourke kicked an overhead shot wide at the end of a dangerous-looking Cork attack and a handling error from Hallissey saw another opportunity go a-begging before the short whistle sounded with four points between them.

John Cleary's men needed a good start to the second half and they got the exact opposite when a mistake at the back invited pressure on the Rebel rearguard and wing back McCaffrey ended up slotting a low shot past Sean Mellett for a third Dubs goal, 3-5 to 0-7.

Full forward Luke Connolly drilled over an excellent point from a '45' in the 35th minute of the second half. All six of the starting Cork forwards were on the scoresheet now, but they trailed by six points!

Paul Hudson and Kilkenny - with a super score - were on target before Connolly whacked over his second of the day. O'Rourke added to the Munster champions' tally after Connolly sliced a '45' but Hudson steadied the east coast men with a sensational finish from out the pitch - 3-8 to 0-10 with quarter of the game left.

Hurley brought it back to a six-point match again but substitute Paul Maguire registered almost instantly for the winners. Substitute Gerry Seaver struck an upright and Kilkenny pulled a free to the left and wide but it mattered little as this match was over as a meaningful contest.

O Conghaile stretched the gap and Hurley replied with a brace of frees; the gap came down to five when substitute Dan McEoin floated over a beautiful free from the hands off the outside of the left foot two minutes from the end.

But Man of the Match Ryan put the icing on the cake with a great score in the last minute of normal time. Three minutes were added but there would be no Cork miracle at the end…

Cork - S Mellet; D O'Donovan, D Cahalane, A Cronin; J Cronin, T Clancy, J Wall; R Deane, E Healy; K Hallissey (0-1), M Sugrue (0-1), J O'Rourke (0-2); L Connolly (0-2), B Hurley (0-6), D Óg Hodnett (0-1). Subs: D McEoin (0-1) for Hallissey, C O'Sullivan for Wall, B O'Driscoll for Healy (51), A Cadogan for Sugrue.

Dublin - JB Carthy; M Concar, K O'Brien, S George; L Fletcher, J Kelly, J McCaffrey (1-0); E Ó Conghaile (0-2), D Byrne (0-1); C Reddin, G Sweeney (0-1), M Schutte; C Kilkenny (0-1), P Ryan (2-3), P Hudson (0-2). Subs: P Maguire (0-1) for Byrne, G Seaver for Schutte, P O'Higgins for Reddin, H Dawson for Hudson, E Keogh for Sweeney.

Ref - M Higgins (Fermanagh).

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