Costello tour de force drives dynamic Dubs
DUBLIN'S so-called 'drive for five' was painfully reduced to a 'soar for four' by the end of yesterday's dramatics in Croke Park, but their minors' stunning display certainly kept their hopes of a long-awaited hurling title alive.
A remarkable goal-fest that yielded 4-12 by the break laid the platform for the capital's first appearance in a minor hurling decider in 28 years.
It sets up a fascinating repeat of that 1983 final against Galway, when a young beanpole called Niall Quinn was among their underage hopefuls, but the shape of Dublin's young hurlers has altered radically since then.
Both sides had beaten Kilkenny en route to the last four but the Leinster minor champions' superior size, power and aerial prowess was one of yesterday's big talking points.
They led by 17 points (4-12 to 0-7) at half-time and went 21 points clear within minutes of the restart. That Waterford's gutsy youngsters got it back to within eight points at one stage speaks volumes for their bravery and dogged refusal to give up.
"At half-time we had a choice: either curl up and die or fight, and it's a credit to them that they did (the latter)," said proud Deise manager Liam O'Connor, whose side outscored the Dubs in the second half by 5-6 to 2-7.
But not even that effort could haul back such an unassailable lead and Dublin boss Shay Boland wasn't too upset at his side's big second-half concession.
"They're only young fellas, they believe in scorelines and if you're 20 points up it's very hard to see yourself being beaten," he conceded. Not for the first time this summer a Waterford full-back line was quickly cut to ribbons, conceding goals to Ciaran Kilkenny and Cormac Costello by the 12th minute.
Costello, son of Dublin GAA chief John, scored 2-2 by half-time and bagged two more goals afterwards in his phenomenal 4-2 tally from play. With Kilkenny and Glenn Whelan also running riot, Waterford had to replace the spine of their defence very early.
And things continued to get worse when, minutes after the re-start, Costello ghosted in to net a ball that had come off the woodwork. On 45 minutes, he notched a brilliant fourth goal off a fine long-range pass from Emmet O Conghaile. Yet Waterford, led by 16-year-old Stephen Bennett, Gavin O'Brien, Jake Dillon and Ray Barry, refused to give up and racked up goals from Bennett (a penalty won by Dillon), O'Brien and substitutes Cormac Heffernan and Adam O'Sullivan in the final quarter.
Their fifth came in injury time when a long-range free by Stephen O'Neill took a touch off a Dublin hand and ended up in the net.
After winning Munster in 2009, contesting the last two provincial minor finals and with a dozen of their squad underage again next year, Waterford's future still looks bright, but they were outmuscled by a very classy outfit. Four of the winners -- Costello, O Conghaile, Kilkenny and corner-back Eric Lowndes -- could yet be chasing an All-Ireland double with Dublin's minor footballers.
"We have control over our own destiny and we'll see where that takes us," Boland said.
Scorers -- Dublin: C Costello 4-2, C Kilkenny 1-5 (1f), P Winters 1-3 (2f), G Whelan, E O Conghaile, A Clabby 0-2 each, B McCarthy, M McCaffrey, J Desmond ('65) 0-1 each.
Waterford: G O'Brien 1-4 (1 '65), S Bennett 1-1 (1-0 pen), C Heffernan, D O'Brien, S O'Neill (1f) 1-0 each, J Dillon 0-3 (1f), D Breathnach 0-2, J Barron, C Curran, C Chester 0-1 each.
Dublin -- C Ryan 6; E Lowndes 6, C O'Callaghan 7, S McClelland 8; C Crummy 7, J Desmond 7, M McCaffrey 7; G Whelan 8, C Cronin 6; C McHugh 7, C Kilkenny 9, A Clabby 7; C Costello 9, E O Conghaile 9, P Winters 8. Subs: O O'Rourke 6 for Winters (45), B McCarthy 7 for McHugh (47), C Boland 7 for Cronin (52), D Gormley for McCaffrey (59), R Tierney for Lowndes (61).
Waterford -- P Cooke 6; I Kenny 6, D Ahern 6, C Walsh 7; J Barron 7, D Foley 6, J Power 7; S McNulty 6, R Barry 8; J Dillon 8, G O'Brien 8, D Breathnach 7; P O'Keeffe 6, S Bennett 7, C Curran 6. Subs: S O'Neill 7 for Ahern (23), C Heffernan 7 for Foley (26), D O'Brien 6 for O'Keeffe (h-t), A O'Sullivan 7 for Breathnach (38), C Chester 7 for Curran (38).
Ref -- G Duffy (Antrim)