Dublin 1-14 Kerry 1-12
SEVEN months to the day since they were due to parade their talents in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day, the U20 footballers of Dublin and Tyrone finally met against a similar backdrop of Covid chaos and uncertainty.
And ultimately it was the Dubs who prevailed after a gripping All-Ireland semi-final at Kingspan Breffni Park this afternoon, kicking the last four points to win by two.
Mark Lavin and Ciarán Archer produced big second half performances when it mattered most to propel Tom Gray’s team into next Saturday’s decider – presuming it even goes ahead.
Another delay (or worse) would be cruel on Dublin, having waited so long since their Leinster final win over Laois in early March.
Yet even making it this far looked debatable in the extreme after Ethan Jordan kicked his fifth point of the day, from a 50th minute free, to leave the Ulster champions two ahead.
Then Dublin regrouped for one decisive late push, ignited by Archer. The 2019 U20 player of the year sold a sweet dummy before bisecting the posts; then Lorcan O’Dell equalised.
This was followed by Archer’s sixth point, and his best of the day, a thumping left-footed score from the right wing, before impressive wing-back Lee Gannon doubled their lead.
Tyrone pushed desperately in search an injury-time goal, ‘keeper Lorcan Quinn even joining their last attack, but to no avail as Dublin held on.
After so long in cold storage, it’s a credit to both teams that they served up such an entertaining first half, the pendulum swinging back and forth from the moment Darragh Canavan, son of Peter the Great, converted a first minute mark.
The sides were level, 0-2 apiece, after a brisk opening before Dublin made their first major play, Luke Swan’s pass opening up the defence for Brian O’Leary to dispatch a clinical low finish past Quinn.
Late call-up Seán Lowry was punching holes in the Tyrone cover from deep, and they looked well positioned after Lavin opened his account to restore a three-point cushion.
But then Tyrone took off and hit 1-3 without reply, punishing turnovers high up the pitch as Dublin lost their way after the water break.
The Tyrone goal, on 17 minutes, was created by Simon Garrity’s excellent pass over the top to the unmarked Rory Donnelly. His shot was repelled by Josh O’Neill, but the Dublin defence failed to clear their lines and, after a bout of pinball, Tiarnán Quinn pounced at the far post.
That left the Red Hand outfit up one, and they were four clear via Jordan, the influential Canavan and a Jordan free. It could have been even worse for Dublin: Tom Donaghy had a goal chance blocked after Garrity had won a turnover.
Perhaps crucially, the hitherto subdued Archer kicked the last two points of the half, from a free and from play, either side of Adam Fearon crashing a goal attempt off the woodwork.
The young men in blue trailed by 1-7 to 1-5 at the midpoint and, even though Tyrone twice edged three clear, Dublin showed far more control and patience as the second half evolved, led by Lavin who curled over two sweet efforts from the right wing.
SCORERS – Dublin: C Archer 0-6 (3f), B O’Leary 1-1, M Lavin 0-3, L O’Dell 0-2, S Lowry, L Gannon 0-1 each.
Tyrone: T Quinn 1-3 (0-2f), E Jordan 0-5 (3f, 1 ‘45’), D Canavan 0-3 (1m), S Garrity 0-1.
DUBLIN: J O’Neill; C Tyrrell, A Rafter, J Bannon; M O’Leary, A Waddick, L Gannon; A Fearon, S Foran; M Lavin, L O’Dell, S Lowry; C Archer, L Swan, B O’Leary. Subs: E Caulfield for Fearon (temp 9-14), R Dwyer for Foran (ht), K McKeon for Fearon (42), P Purcell for Lowry (63).
TYRONE: L Quinn; C Devlin, C Munroe, C Quinn; A Fox, M Gallagher, J McCann; K Barker, R Donnelly; T Donaghy, T Quinn, E Jordan; D Canavan, S Garrity, M Murnaghan. Subs: R Jones for Donaghy (28), M Hayes for Garrity (43), J Oguz for Barker (48), L Gray for Donnelly (60).
REF: B Judge (Sligo