Mayo are All-Ireland U21 champions

May 07, 2006
Mayo captured the 2006 All-Ireland U21 football title with a superb 1-13 to 1-11 victory over favourites Cork at Cusack Park in Ennis. For a long time it looked as if the Munster champions would win this match, but Mayo finally clicked into full gear shortly after the re-start and the Rebels were unable to stay with them. The first half was a scrappy, nervy affair as both teams struggled to come to terms with the sense of occasion. Cork had two points on the board inside the opening eight minutes thanks to John Hayes and Daniel Goulding but Mayo replied with an Aidan Kilcoyne effort. The Rebels restored their two-point cushion before Michael Conroy (Mayo) and Fintan Gould traded points. Hayes went to ground very optimistically in search of a 20th-minute penalty but the referee was having none of it. Goulding tapped over a simple Cork free from straight in front of the posts but the Green & Reds stayed in touch thanks to an excellent long-rang free from the boot of their top scorer Kilcoyne - 0-5 to 0-3 with five minutes left in the first half. The inspirational Mayo No.12 then landed a stunning score from a sideline ball on the left wing, curling a majestic point between the posts with his right instep. When Keith Higgins wrestled Goulding to ground directly in front of goal, the Rebel County corner forward made no mistake with another free from the hands. The kick was from precisely the same spot as Cork's previous score. Cork centre forward Caragh Keane burst through the Mayo defence to fire over a superb point on the stroke of half time and that score gave the Leesiders a handy 0-7 to 0-4 interval lead. Hayes got the first point of the second half with a free off the ground four minutes in, as Tony Leahy's side assumed a double-scores lead. But 1-4 without reply put Mayo in the boss seat. Midfielder Seamus O'Se won a penalty two minutes later and finished emphatically to the net at the second attempt after Cork keeper Ken O'Halloran had excellently saved the original effort. Amazingly, a Conroy point then had the westerners level seven minutes into the second half. When Kilcoyne clipped over another free, Mayo led for the first time ten minutes into the second half. Gould had a chance of an equaliser but fired his free wide. Mayo were on top now and registered the next point to make it 1-7 to 0-8. Kilcoyne split the posts with a 35-metre free and the underdogs had a three-point advantage with only a quarter of the hour remaining to play. Then, a bolt from the blue: a high delivery into the Mayo goalmouth was collected by Goulding, who somehow managed to grab a brilliant goal (despite the attentions of Keith Higgins) and bring the Rebels level, 1-8 apiece. Mayo went back ahead with three more points on the trot, including another effortless Kilcoyne free. The winners led to lead by three with just over five minutes remaining. Gould kicked a mighty point from distance to give his side a glimmer of hope and the same player then landed an exceptional long-range free to leave just a point in it. In a dramatic climax, Cork lost possession late on while pressing for an equaliser and with that went their last chance. Michael Conroy kicked an insurance point for the Connacht champions ten seconds from the end of normal time and the diminutive Mark Ronaldson knocked over the winners' last point of the match in the first minute of stoppage time. There was one last opportunity for Cork to salvage a draw but Goulding's close range rasper blazed over the bar in the third minute of added time and the long whistle sounded with Pat Holmes' side 1-13 to 1-11 in front. Champions of all Ireland.

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