Wednesday 22 November 2017

Boys of summer were there when it counted

Tipperary defy the odds in a minor miracle

SOME TIME over the Christmas, Dessie Farrell might well contemplate how his Dublin side lost the All-Ireland minor football final.

As an action-packed decider seemingly ebbed towards an expected Dubs' win, they were sucker-punched by a last-gasp wonder goal from Colman Kennedy.

In the moments after the final whistle, Tipp's triumph was lazily labelled as the ultimate smash-and-grab job, but closer inspection suggests otherwise.

Maybe there was a fated aspect to Tipp's story -- this gritty, single-minded team came from 11 points behind away to Kerry at the start of the season to register a precious Munster championship win.

They were four down against Cork before winning by eight. They also toppled Limerick, Roscommon and Meath. So forget the last-minute heroics on that third September Sunday -- Tipp's was a stirring tale long before they sickened Dublin.

Yet, as the path to the final opened up, there was little respect shown for their feats. Indeed, after that astonishing comeback against Kerry they were still a most improbable 66/1 to land an All-Ireland crown. Those odds indeed attracted the parents of some Tipp players but there were few other takers.

In the final, Farrell's men enjoyed a large level of superiority and deservedly led by five points at the interval and two as the clock wound down. But steeled by earlier deeds of the season, Tipp piled forward and enjoyed tactical success when two half-time subs stepped forward late on to make pivotal contributions.

Phillip Quirke raised three white flags from centre-forward after being introduced before Clonmel Commercials youngster Colman Kennedy capitalised on a loose clearance from Dublin goalkeeper Ross O'Hanlon seconds later.

It was a moment in time that neither youngster will ever forget.

Kennedy unleashed a stinging 20-yard drive to the corner of the net; a sensational strike given the simple option was to point and force a replay. "I would have killed him, but he scored a goal like that against Kerry too," says Tipp's young manager Davy Power.

When the full-time whistle sounded, Tipp had their first title at this grade since 1934. With 17 players underage again in 2012, the next gap might not be so long.

Damian Lawlor

Sunday Indo Sport

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