Cork Constitution will contest two All-Ireland senior finals in the coming weeks after a late brace of tries saw them edge out Young Munster 22-16 in today’s hard-fought Division 1A semi-final at Temple Hill.
Cork Con, who travel to Galwegians in next Saturday's Bateman Cup final, booked their place in the Ulster Bank League decider against Clontarf on Sunday, May 8 with a storming finish on Leeside.
Centre Niall Kenneally's sixth-minute try, in response to an earlier penalty from Gearoid Lyons, had Constitution leading the Cookies 7-3 at half-time. Number 8 Luke Cahill showed good control as he picked off the base of a close-in scrum and Kenneally was then fed for a powerful run to the line.
Tomas Quinlan converted and Kenneally was prominent again in another purposeful Con attack, just past the quarter hour, that ended with winger Rob Jermyn being tackled short out wide on the left.
Lyons, who offered quite a threat for the Cookies in midfield along with Dan Goggin, was off target with his second penalty attempt and a scrappy first half ended with defences very much on top.
Munsters tided up their scrum, with replacement prop Ben Betts making his presence felt, while Constitution's wily second row Brian Hayes grew in influence at lineout time.
But this error-strewn encounter turned in Young Munster's favour as goal-kicking centre Lyons landed two successful penalties and helped to set up a breakaway try for full-back Craig O'Hanlon.
Turning into the breeze, the visitors cut the gap to a single point after Lyons tapped over a close range penalty as wingers Darragh O'Neill and Jack Harrington got more involved in open play.
The Cookies' forwards then enjoyed a good bout of pressure, forcing a penalty that saw Con hooker Max Abbott sin-binned for hands in the ruck and Lyons make it 9-7 with 62 minutes on the clock.
A lovely left-footed strike from Quinlan had Con back in front before Ireland Sevens international Lyons brilliantly burst clear from his 22 and made a full 60 metres. Munsters recycled and Abrie Griesel's skip pass put O'Hanlon over for a try in the corner, with Lyons' crisp conversion putting six points between the sides.
However, the travelling support cruelly had to endure semi-final heartbreak for the second successive season as a combination of Constitution composure and Munsters indiscipline saw the hosts prevail.
With Sean Duggan already binned for collapsing an advancing maul a few minutes earlier, Munsters went down to 13 men after a second straight scrum infringement and then a third such offence saw referee Gary Conway award an 80th minute penalty try to Constitution.
Quinlan tapped over the conversion for a 17-16 scoreline and Brian Hickey's men made certain of their final berth with an injury-time try in the right corner from powerful runner Kenneally, who followed up on an initial break from winger Aaron Spring and further good work from Hayes.
Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU)