Byline: DARAGH O CONCHUIR
CORK 1- 13
DOWN 2- 09
ADRAMATIC injurytime goal from Colm O'Driscoll secured a sensational victory for Cork in yesterday's magnificent Cadbury's All- Ireland Under-21 final at Portlaoise.
The Leesiders certainly do not mind doing it the hard way, having won this title with a late goal and point against Laois at Semple Stadium two years ago.
This year's vintage had already shown their character by snatching the Munster title from Tipperary's grasp with another injury-time winner, corner back Noel Galvin the unlikely hero on that occasion.
It looked like curtains this time as two second-half goals, the second a wonderful score by wing back and captain Timmy Hanna, propelled Down to a two-point lead.
Cork's inspirational skipper Colm O'Neill hit back immediately with a fine point, but when Peter Fitzpatrick lofted over at the other end on the hour, after Paul McComiskey had dispossessed Bart Daly, Mourne folk were beginning to celebrate.
The Rebels spurned plenty of point-scoring opportunities as they sought the Down net but they were repelled by some sturdy defence.
Finally though, centre back Aidan Walsh found some space up the middle, made ground and unleashed a powerful shot that Down goalkeeper Gavin Joyce could only parry. And it was O'Driscoll, a substitute in 2007, who reacted quickest to lash home the rebound from close range.
'All I remember was Aidan Walsh took a shot and the keeper was unlucky not to hold it,' he said. 'It broke in front of me and I pulled on it as hard as I could and thankfully it hit the back of the net.
'We thought the game might be slipping away from us but in fairness to that team, there's fierce determination, grit and heart there, and we never give up.' Down had time to launch one more attack but Galvin cut out the danger and that was that.
'All year we've been battling like that and I knew we would get another chance if we could get the ball up,' said ecstatic Cork manager John Cleary. 'Our inside line was on top all the time and I knew in the end we'd have to go for goal.
'I suppose this season has taught us: we won three games by a point, and they were all won in the last minute. We'll take it because other days it will go against you, so we're absolutely thrilled.' Agony though for Down, as Pete McGrath reflected: 'To lose an All-
Ireland final in the last dying minutes of the game is a major disappointment.
It is everyone's nightmare. …