Munster champions never got going against Ulster runners-up
ALL-IRELAND MINOR FC QUARTER-FINAL
Munster champions Cork are out of the race to be All-Ireland champions after they went down by six points to Derry in a game that the beaten Ulster finalists led from start to finish in Portlaoise on Saturday evening.
Racing into an early three-point lead, Derry led from when they kicked their first score to the end of the game against the Munster champions who quite simply never got up to the tempo of their opponent.
It was a professional performance from the Oak-Leaf county, and despite what the score line may suggest, this could have been a lot worse for the Rebel county as Derry controlled the game in all sectors.
Cork really struggled against a packed Derry defence, and they failed to reach the highs and performance of the Munster Final as the Ulster runner-up claimed victory.
It was a quiet opening 20 minutes with both sides extremely wasteful in possession. Derry started the better of the two sides and they raced into an early lead. Ciarán Chambers opened the scoring for his side with a routine free from the ‘21’. Soon after, Johnny McGuckian’s effort from range sailed just over Josh Woods’ crossbar to double their lead.
Derry could well have hit the back of the net, but for an excellent Woods save. It was a brilliant team move and when Alan O’Connell found himself free at the back post, it looked like a certain goal, but Woods recovered to somehow get his hand to the ball and deflect it away from danger. Odhran Crozier converted the ‘45’ and after nine minutes of play, Derry found themselves three ahead.
Olan O’Donovan looked to be the danger man inside for the Rebel County and he opened his side’s account for the day. He had a chance to double his tally soon after, but he hit a routine ‘21’ yard free wide, with Cork struggling for scores.
Cork looked frustrated on the ball as they attempted to break down a packed Derry defence. They gave the ball away several times during the first half as they struggled to create any real opportunities for themselves.
Colm Gillespie did manage to split the posts with beautifully guided effort from just outside the ‘D’, but Derry were quick to respond when Chambers fired over his second of the day from close range after 26 minutes of play. Chambers’ point proved to be the last of the half, as referee Patrick Maguire’s half time whistle brought the curtain down on a dull half of football from both sides, with Derry enjoying a four point lead at the interval.
Upon the resumption of play, Derry pointed straight from the throw in when Ruairí Forbes caught the ball and raced towards the Cork goal, opting for the point despite having the goal at his mercy.
Cork were wasteful after the half time break, hitting three wides in a row and they seemed unable at times to cut open the defence and create any clear cut opportunities for themselves, often shooting from audacious angles in an attempt to reduce the lead.
Derry kept the scoreboard ticking and Crozier fired over another monster free off the ground from 45 yards out.
Cork did respond through Brian Hayes when the Nemo Ranger sharpshooter fired over a beautiful long-range point from distance off his left foot, but it was counteracted soon after when the opposite number 13, Eoin Higgins curled over a spectacular score which was just as impressive as Hayes’ to leave six points in it.
Cork’s challenge was dying down and they looked a frustrated outfit in the final 15 minutes. Odhran Murphy shot over his second of the game when he did well to find space inside to bring Derry’s total to 10.
Scores were at a premium during a spell in the second half, but Eoin Higgins’ free from 13 yards out seemed to put the game to bed as it increased the Derry lead to seven points with just seven minutes left to play.
Cork had a glimmer of hope late on when they fired three points on the trot, two frees from Higgins and a fine score from Gillespie when he won the ball inside, turned and fired over.
However, Derry had the final say and when they broke on the counterattack, it was their wing back Shea Birt who rounded off the day’s scoring with a right footed curling effort to ensure Derry booked their place in the final four.
CORK: Josh Woods; Gearóid Daly, Colin Molloy, Kieran McCarthy; Darragh O’Donovan, Mark O’Sullivan, Aaron Cullinane; Colm Geary, Colm Gillespie 0-2; Mark Kelleher, Ed Myers, Alan O’Connell; Brian Hayes 0-3 (2f), Gearóid Kearney, Olan O’Donovan 0-1. Subs: Neville O’Leary for Darragh O’Donovan (38), Aaron O’Sullivan for Gearóid Kearney (38), Ben O’Sullivan for Dara McPeake (43), James Burke for Aaron Cullinane (47), Darragh Gough for Mark Kelleher (51)
DERRY: Ben O’Connor; Fionn McEldowney, Eoin Scullion, Danny McDermott; James Murray, Odhran Crozier 0-2 (1f, 1 ‘45’), Shea Birt 0-1; Dara McPeake, Ruairí Forbes 0-1; Johnny McGuckian 0-1, Ciarán Chambers 0-3 (2f), Conal Higgins; Eoin Higgins 0-2 (1f), Odhran Murphy 0-2, Cahir Spiers. Subs: Antain Donnelly for Conal Higgins (53), Conor Downey for Ciaran Chambers (55), Joe Dillon for James Murray (62), Conor Coyle for Odhran Murphy (62).