BGE U21 All Ireland SF: Cork cruise to victory
Bord Gais Energy All Ireland Under 21 Hurling Semi-Final
CORK 3-26 WEXFORD 0-13
By Paul Keane at Nowlan Park
Tim O'Mahony's early goals at Nowlan Park laid the platform for a big Cork win and a long awaited return to the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland U-21 hurling final.
The big full-forward was on the mark twice inside the opening nine minutes and finished with 2-2 as Cork romped past the Leinster runners-up to reach the final on the last weekend of August.
Free-taker Declan Dalton impressed too and nailed eight points though was carried off late on with an apparent knee injury.
The Munster champions will be keeping their fingers cross it doesn't keep him out of the final against Galway or Tipperary, who meet in the second semi-final on Wednesday.
Cork, who last appeared in the final in 1998, dominated the exchanges and were powered on by an all senior midfield of Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon.
Shane Kingston and Robbie O'Flynn were also involved having featured at Croke Park last Sunday in the senior team's All-Ireland semi-final loss to Limerick.
Wexford were without senior star Rory O'Connor and lacked a vital cut and thrust in attack.
Yet their main problems lay in defence as Cork swarmed forward and put them under intense pressure, forcing the Wexford defenders to commit foul after foul.
By half-time the Rebels had racked up a whopping 2-14 and were well on their way.
Free-taker Dalton scored seven of those points as Wexford were left with no option but to foul.
Dalton impressed generally from play and won two of the frees that he converted.
But it was O'Mahony and his two early goals that set the teams apart and ensured this would be plain sailing for the Munster champions.
His first major came in the sixth minute when he followed up on his own initial shot that was blacked and struck the rebound to the net.
Three minutes later he was in the right place to volley home after a sweeping move involving Kingston and Dalton ended with Fitzgibbon's shot being parried into O'Mahony's path.
Damien Reck and Conor Firman, the Wexford captain, were among their senior players and Reck boomed over a long range 23rd minute point.
But Tom Mullally's side, chasing a first All-Ireland at this grade since 1965, found scores hard to come by and hit just five from play in the opening half.
Cork stretched their lead to 11 points by the break at 2-14 to 0-9 thanks to scores from Jack O'Connor, Kingston and Liam Healy as they threatened a rout.
Healy grabbed a third Cork goal in the 40th minute and there was a late cameo from sub Conor Cahalane who contributed four points after his introduction.
Scorers for Cork: Tim O'Mahony 2-2, Declan Dalton 0-8 (6fs), Liam Healy 1-1, Shane Kingston 0-4, Jack O'Connor 0-4, Conor Cahalane 0-4, Aaron Myers 0-2 (2fs), Chris O'Leary 0-1.
Scorers for Wexford: Seamus Casey 0-6 (3fs, 1 sideline), Aaron Maddock 0-2, D Reck 0-2, Rowan White 0-2, Conor Hearne 0-1.
CORK: Ger Collins; David Lowney, Eoghan Murphy, Niall O'Leary; John Cashman, Ger Mellerick, Billy Hennessy; Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Robbie O'Flynn, Declan Dalton, Shane Kingston; Liam Healy, Tim O'Mahony, Jack O'Connor.
Subs: Conor Cahalane for Mellerick (36), Aaron Myers for Dalton (52), Daire Connery for Fitzgibbon (55), Chris O'Leary for Kingston (59), Conor O'Callaghan for Coleman (60).
WEXFORD: Jack Cushe; Shane Reck, Darren Byrne, Eoin Molloy; Conor Firman, Ian Carthy, Rowan White; Aaron Maddock, Garry Molloy; Oisin Foley, Damien Reck, Liam Stafford; Mikey Dwyer, Rory Higgins, Seamus Casey.
Subs: Stephen O'Gorman for S Reck (25), Darren Codd for Stafford (HT), Conor Hearne for Foley (HT), Eoin Kelly for Higgins (41), Jody Donohoe for Byrne (46).
REFEREE: Alan Kelly (Galway).