Sunday 22 September 2019

Rebels' Lazarus act delivers a famous All Ireland over fancied Dubs

All Ireland Under 20 Football Final: Cork 3-16 Dublin 1-14

Cork captain Peter O’Driscoll lifts the cup
Cork captain Peter O’Driscoll lifts the cup

Diarmuid Sheehan

Well, if there were any doubts about the trajectory that Cork football is on then the answer was surely given last Saturday afternoon as the county's top Under 20 players saw off a hugely impressive and well-fancied Dublin side to take the national crown, for the first time in a decade.

Cork came into the final on the back of a brilliant comeback win against Tyrone and, while many saw this as a shot to nothing for Cork, the players and management had other ideas as they came to Portlaoise confident that this may well be their year and how right they were, taking the win by eight points - 3-16 to 1-14.

Early on, few at the game, including myself, could have imagined that Cork would seal the deal in this one after the boys in red got off to the most dismal of starts - trailing the Leinster giants by 1-6 to 0-0 on 13 minutes.

Cork were all over the shop. Passes weren't sticking, players were being pulled all over the pitch and Dublin piled on the pressure as they saw their chance to put this one to bed well before the half-time break.

Sayings like "Cometh the Hour Cometh the man" get bandied about far too frequently on occasion however on this occasion it was Cometh the bunch of men as Cork collectively rose from the dead to pull this one back.

Blake Murphy, Cathal O'Mahony, Damien Gore and Mark Cronin all gave magnificent displays for the All Ireland champions, while Seán Meehan and Colm O'Callaghan were also well worthy of note.

Dublin, as one might expect, hit the ground running racking up six points on the bounce as Cork looked overawed by the day and the challenge t hand.

Ciaran Archer, the tormentor and chief for every side he played this season, bagged his side's opening goal two minutes before the quarter hour mark after Cork's defensive set seemed to lose all sense of rearguard rationale leaving the potent attacker in to do what he does best - to punish with goals.

Cork finally got a score - and what a score it was as Blake Murphy volleyed home his side's first goal moments after Archer's effort and cork were back with a chance.

That first goal began something of a tidal wave effect as the Rebels first registered a free from Mike Cronin before goals on 16 and 17 minutes had this one back in the melting pot with all the momentum on the side of red.

Cronin raised the second green flag after some good work to keep in a ball heading wide before O'Callaghan registered the game's fourth major a minute later, scrambling the ball to the receptive Dublin net.

Cork's Lazarus like response saw them trade points till just before the interval before a late brace had them heading for the tunnel leading by 3-6 to 1-10. Cork's players and fans were rocking and the team left the pitch to sounds and scenes not witnessed at a Cork football game in quite a while.

Dublin were never likely to bow down that easily and it was hardly a surprise when Archer and Brian O'Leary hit back on the resumption to worry Cork fans, but this was not to be the Dubs day and Cork, with the wind to their backs, ratcheted up the pressure pushing clear with 10 of the next 12 points.

Dublin's chances weren't helped when midfielder Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne saw black on with a second yellow to Dublin to centre-forward Karl Lynch Bissett on 51 minutes all but ending this one as a contest.

There is little doubt that the victory went to the right side as scenes of wild celebration were seen all over the midland ground.

CORK: Josh O'Keeffe (Newmarket); Michael Mahoney (Knocknagree), Maurice Shanley (Clonakilty), Paul Ring (Aghabullogue); Sean Meehan (Kiskeam), Peter O'Driscoll (Ilen Rovers),Gearoid O'Donovan (Newcestown); Brian Hartnett (Douglas), Daniel O'Connell (Kanturk) 0-1; Colm Barrett (St Finbarr's), Blake Murphy (St Vincent's) 1-2, Colm O'Callaghan (Éire Óg) 1-0; Mark Cronin (Nemo Rangers) 1-3 (2f), Cathal O'Mahony (Mitchelstown) 0-4 (3f), Damien Gore (Kilmacabea) 0-4. Subs: Jack Murphy (Éire Óg) 0-1 for C Barrett (38), Mark Hodnett (Carbery Rangers) for C O'Callaghan (40), Fionn Herlihy (Dohenys) 0-1 for B Murphy (50), Jack McCarthy (Carrigaline) for G O'Donovan (56), Eanna O'Hanlon (Kilshannig) for D Gore (62), Shane Hickey (Millstreet) for P Ring (62)

DUBLIN: David O'Hanlon; Darren Maher, Daire Newcombe, Eoin O'Dea; Kieran Kennedy, Neil Matthews , Seán Lambe; Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne, Donal Ryan 0-1; Niall O'Leary, Karl Lynch Bissett, James Doran 0-2; Brian O'Leary 0-3, Ciarán Archer 1-5 (3f), Ross McGarry 0-2 (1f) Subs: David Lacey 0-1 for N O'Leary (38), Harry Ladd for P Ó Cofaigh Byrne (43, bc), Aaron Lynch for D Maher (53)

Referee: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary)