Saturday 25 November 2017

Dublin win last ever All-Ireland U21 final in thriller with Galway

Dublin 2-13 Galway 2-7

The President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins applauds as the Dublin captains Con O'Callaghan, left, Cillian O'Shea lift the cup after the EirGrid All-Ireland U21 Football Final match between Dublin and Galway at O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
The President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins applauds as the Dublin captains Con O'Callaghan, left, Cillian O'Shea lift the cup after the EirGrid All-Ireland U21 Football Final match between Dublin and Galway at O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

After 53 years of competition, the last All-Ireland U21 final saved almost all of its drama for the final ten minutes before Dessie Farrell’s Dublin ran out deserved winners in Tullamore’s O’Connor Park.

A blistering start to the second half, which saw them hit 1-3 in the five minutes immediately after the restart, put the Dubs seven points clear and saw them put one hand on the trophy.

Senior panelist and club All-Ireland hurling winner Con O’Callaghan grabbed Dublin’s first goal. Brian Howard then took a mark at midfield and his delivery looked like it would be intercepted but when Galway missed their chance, Aaron Byrne took the right option and passed to O’Callaghan who fisted to the net.

That purple patch took the wind out of Galway and it wasn’t until near the death that the Tribesmen gave themselves a chance of winning the game.

Dublin’s lead stood at eight points going into the final ten minutes when Corofin’s Cillian McDaid grabbed a goal and a Kieran Molloy point gave Galway hope.

Ruairi Greene almost put Galway within a point but his effort hit the inside of the post and rolled across the line before being cleared. Galway then missed a simple free and when Dublin broke away to goal through Aaron Byrne, they looked to have the job done for a second time in the hour.

Still, the four minutes of injury time threw up more excitement. Galway sub Colm Brennan forced a goal which cut the gap to four again but a comeback looked unlikely.

O’Callaghan pointed a penalty in the last action of the day to give Dublin their fifth title at the grade and a fourth since 2010. 

Galway could have little complaint with the result as they never led at any stage in the match.

Dublin opened the scoring through Glenn O’Reilly and might have had a goal as early as the fourth minute. Aaron Byrne raced on to a break off Con O’Callaghan but his first time effort was gobbled up by Galway goalkeeper Ronan O Beolain.

With the wind swirling and giving no clear advantage to either side, it was Dublin who settled better. After the first quarter, they held a 0-4 to 0-1 lead with Micheal Daly landing Galway’s only score.

The amount of influence O’Callaghan could exert on the game was destined to have a big say on things and with Sean Andy O Ceallaigh getting on top of the Cuala man, Gerry Fahy’s side gradually settled.

The never nature of the game continued but they would outscore Dublin by 0-3 to 0-1 on the run in to half time with Eoin Finnerty and McDaid landing fine points to leave the Tribesmen trailing by the minimum at the break (0-5 to 0-4).

However, Dublin’s quick fire start to the second-half saw them lay the ground to secure the last U21 All-Ireland title before the competition moves to U20 in 2018.

SCORERS - Dublin: C O’Callaghan 1-3 (2f, 0-1 pen), G O’Reilly 0-3, A Byrne 1-0, D O’Brien, C Basquel 0-2 each, D Gavin, B Howard, S Smith 0-1 each. 

Galway: C McDaid 1-1, C Brennan 1-0, E Finnerty, P Mannion, P Cooke (1f), K Molloy, C Brady, M Daly 0-1 each.

Dublin: E Comerford; D Byrne, S McMahon, D Monaghan; C O’Shea, E Murchan, C Murphy; A Foley, B Howard; D O’Brien, G O’Reilly, A Byrne; T Fox, C Basquel, C O’Callaghan. SUBS: D Gavin for Foley (13), D Spillane for Fox (39), C Sallier for O’Reilly (45), A McGowan for McMahon (60), P Small for Basquel (60), S Smith for Byrne (60).       

Galway: R O Beolain; SA O Ceallaigh, L Kelly, R Greene; C McDaid, D McHugh, K Molloy; P Cooke, C D’arcy; P Mannion, M Daly, S Kelly; R Finnerty, E Finnerty, D Conneely SUBS: C Brady for R Finnerty (HT), C Brennan for D’arcy (37), M Boyle for Connelly (39), E Lee for Kelly (44), A O Laoi for Mannion (54), P O Curraoin for Molloy (60).  

Referee: C Branagan (Down).

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