U-20s are stunned as Rebels end with a flourish
GAA Eirgrid Football All-Ireland U-20 Championship Final: Cork 3-16 Dublin 1-14
Three goals in five first-half minute turned Cork's nightmare start into a dream All-Ireland final day as their Under-20 footballers claimed the unlikeliest of victories over Dublin at O'Moore Park last Saturday.
When St Maur's star Ciarán Archer found the net in the 12th minute Cork were nine points behind and had yet to score, but inspired by Mark Cronin they fired back with goals from Blake Murphy, Cronin and Colm O'Callaghan to take the lead at the break.
Dublin had Karl Lynch Bissett sent off late on, while they also lost Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne to a black card, but it was the Cork scoring threat and brilliant defensive display that powered them to victory with 10 of the last 12 points.
Damien Gore scored a run of three during that second-half spell, while Cathal O'Mahony landed a couple of audacious frees, but fittingly it was Cronin who had the honour of kicking the last score to round off an excellent individual performance.
The three goals knocked the stuffing out of Dublin, but Cork showed their true colours in the second half when they got the sniff of the win.
This is the second year since the Under-21 competition was regarded to Under-20s and 2009 was Cork's last victory in the old competition. The follow year was their last All-Ireland football final win at any level, but this victory couldn't have been celebrated as feverishly, even if Sam Maguire had been the prize.
Dublin started with the wind at their backs and James Doran's point after 23 seconds got them up and running. The early goals of Archer proved crucial in their All-Ireland semi-final win over Galway the previous week, but he was well patrolled by Maurice Shanley and had to be satisfied with a couple of points this time.
But his goal came in the 12th minute in quite bizarre circumstances. A short kickout from Josh O'Keeffe was fumbled by Peter O'Driscoll and Archer popped in straightaway to rob possession. His shot off the ground incredibly managed to find its way through the legs of the Cork goalkeeper as he hurriedly retreated.
Anyone imagining Cork could muster even a half-hearted comeback at that stage would have been labelled a dreamer, but Cork showed incredible spirit to lift their challenge.
Some great work from Cronin along the endline set up Blake Murphy for a volleyed goal in the 13th minute - Cork's first score - but they quickly followed it with a second goal when Cronin cut in from the right and blasted to the net. A minute later Brian Hartnett's run through the middle was finished to the net at the second attempt by Colm O'Callaghan, which left the scores level at 1-7 to 3-1.
Cork continued to pile on the pressure with a lovely point from Murphy and O'Mahony catching the eye, and despite Ryan, Brian O'Leary and Archer points Dublin trailed at half-time when Cork claimed the final three points to move 3-6 to 1-10 ahead.
The Dublin revival was short-lived after half-time as Archer and Brian O'Leary drew them level but the next four points went Cork's way, before Archer slotted his fifth point.
That meant only three points separated the sides, but the Cork forwards continued to shoot with confidence and the trio of Gore, O'Mahony and Cronin all signed off in style.
Scorers: Cork - M Cronin 1-3 (2f), B Murphy 1-2, D Gore 0-4, C O'Mahony 0-4 (3f), C O'Callaghan 1-0, D O'Connell 0-1, J Murphy 0-1, F Herlihy 0-1; Dublin - C Archer 1-5 (3f), B O'Leary 0-3, R McGarry 0-2 (1f), J Doran 0-2, D Lynch 0-1, D Lacey 0-1.
Cork: J O' Keeffe; M Mahoney, M Shanley, P Ring; S Meehan, P O' Driscoll (c), G O' Donovan; B Hartnett, D O'Connell; C Barrett, B Murphy, C O'Callaghan; M Cronin, C O'Mahony, D Gore. Subs: J Murphy for Barrett (38), M Hodnett for O'Callaghan (40), F Herlihy for B Murphy (50), J McCarthy for O'Donovan (56), E O'Hanlon for Gore (62), S Hickey for Ring (62).
Dublin: D O'Hanlon; D Maher, D Newcombe, N Matthews; K Kennedy, E O'Dea, S Lambe; P Ó Cofaigh Byrne, D Ryan; N O'Leary, K Lynch Bissett, J Doran; B O'Leary, C Archer, R McGarry. Subs: D Lacey for N O'Leary (38), H Ladd for Ó Cofaigh Byrne (43, black card), A Lynch for Maher (53).
Ref: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary).