Cork trounce Meath for place in final
Cork 1-16 Meath 0-09:Once the opening salvos were traded there was only one team who got down to business as Cork effortlessly booked their place in next month's All-Ireland final while Meath limped out of this flat and often surreal semi-final encounter.
Considering the prize at stake, Meath's lacklustre performance becomes all the more surprising, but credit must go to Cork, who stuck to their task and got the job done. Whatever slant is taken, this match, played in front of just 38,000 spectators, fizzled out almost like a training game at times.
The Royals were without Anthony Moyles and the captain's influence was certainly missed. By the same token, the underdogs Cork, seemed to manage no problem without their prolific goalscorer James Masters.
Although the Rebels dominated a first half, which threatened to get nasty after Graham Geraghty was floored by Noel O'Leary after 10 minutes, they still only led by two points at half-time (0-08 to 0-06).
Donncha O'Connor was on target three times in the first period for the Leesiders but Billy Morgan's men wouldn't have it all their own way as Brian Farrell kept matters interesting with three converted frees. Meath manager Colm Coyle brought on Cian Ward on the half hour and he immediately made an impact to set up Caoimhin King.
On the balance of play it remained a mystery how Cork were only two ahead at the break though.
Cork were quickly out of the blocks in the second period as Daniel Goulding scored a free in the first minute. He was then fouled and O'Connor fisted it over the bar to make it 0-10 to 0-06 and Cork were well on their way.
By Cork the Munster side were able to pick off scores for fun before the only goal of the game. Kevin McMahon cut inside his man and the ball deflected off the Meath back and lobbed luckily over the stranded Meath keeper Brendan Murphy to send Cork eight points clear.
Ciran O'Connor fisted another point, O'Connor's free and further Goulding points helped complete the rout for the runaway winners.
Farrell contributed Meath's second point of the second half seven minutes from the end while O'Connor and Stephen Bray traded late scores.
"We've made steady progress progress since that heavy loss two years ago and I was confident we had a team capable of wining here today," said the Cork manager.
Morgan went on to heap praise on his midfield duo of Nicolas Murphy and Derek Kavanagh. "These guys rarely get mentioned or a share of the plaudits they deserve but they have been immense."
The way Coyle saw it was Cork never allowed his side to play and paid credit to their opponents who were good value for the win.
"A lot of it was down to Cork, they did their homework and we never got enough time on the ball," said Coyle afterward. "You've got to hand it to Cork."
"We also made too many errors, things didn't click for us and we never created the sort of tempo we managed against Tyrone.
"We just didn't play on the day but I'm proud of the guys, they've had a great journey and although it hurts right now, we can still a lot of positives from this campaign."
Cork had started the better of the two side but overall only "played well in patches" according to Morgan. Then again, in patches was all they needed to do to ensure the easiest of passages into the final.
Earlier in the day at Headquarters Galway beat Kerry 2-14 to 0-17 to secure a final berth in the All-Ireland SFC Minor final. Last night's action saw Dublin beat Derry 3-18 to 2-11 in the Under-21 Hurling semi-final in Newry as they booked their place in the final for the first time in 35 years.