Tuesday 17 September 2019

Cork's recovery may prove to be the stronger

Cork’s Jack Cahalane. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork’s Jack Cahalane. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway’s Donie Halleran. Photo: Sportsfile

Seán McGoldrick

History will be made in this Electric Ireland under 17 showdown as both finalists lost twice but still made it through via back doors at provincial and All-Ireland level.

Cork twice lost to Kerry in Munster, including a 16-point drubbing in the first round, but the Rebels' form in the All-Ireland series has been spectacular.

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They hammered Monaghan 3-19 to 2-10 in the quarter-finals before overpowering Connacht champions Mayo (4-12 to 1-13) in the semi-final.

Galway, who lost last year's final to Kerry, experienced turbulent times as well in the early stages of the series. They lost to Roscommon in the first round and then went down to Mayo by a point in the Connacht final.

But they, too, recovered their winning touch in the All-Ireland series, beating Leinster champions Kildare (2-17 to 0-15) in the quarter-final before ending Kerry's bid for six titles on the spin by the narrowest of margins (0-14 to 0-13) in a nervy semi-final.

Goalkeeper Donie Halleran, together with forwards Daniel Cox and Tomo Culhane all featured in last year's decider. The latter has emerged as their chief marksman, scoring 0-6 including four frees to steer them to their win over the Kingdom.

This is a historic final for the Tribesmen as they are bidding for the county's first minor double in the wake of the hurlers' success over Kilkenny last month. Coincidentally, Cork was the last county to achieve this double in 1974 when future All Stars Tom Cashman and Johnny Crowley featured on both teams.

The Rebels have another star dual player in their ranks today. Jack Cahalane, youngest son of ex-Cork football star Niall Cahalane and younger brother of Cork hurlers Damien and Conor, played for Cork minor hurlers this year and also featured in the Harty Cup final. His forward colleague, team captain Conor Corbett, has grabbed the limelight, however, scoring 2-3 in their demolition of Mayo. Centre back Daniel Linehan also looked a real prospect and scored an eye catching goal on one of his forward forays.

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Cork have captured the Tom Markham Cup on ten occasions but their last win came in 2010. Galway were bidding for their seventh title and their first since 2007. It is difficult to forecast how 16-year-olds will perform on the biggest day of their careers, but Cork's recent form suggests they will succeed.

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