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03rd Aug 2019

‘Hope never dies, and we never stopped hoping’ – Cork stun Dubs to claim U20 crown

Patrick McCarry

Cork U20s

CORK 3-16, DUBLIN 1-14

It was all going so well for Dublin until they conceded a glut of first half goals.

Dublin looked on course for an All-Ireland U20 Football Final victory until a defensive melt-down cost them three goals in five minutes. Cork found themselves 1-6 to 0-0 down after 11 minutes but their response was worthy of any final win.

Dublin forward Ciaran Archer was the dangerman for Cork but they were leaking scores from multiple sources. They were six points down when a botched Cork goal-kick gifted Archer with a golden opportunity that he gleefully took.

Finding themselves nine points down may have seen most sides wilt but Cork went gung-ho and they were rewarded with three goals and a point in the space of five minutes.

Blake Murphy got the party started when he arrived on the scene at the perfect moment and volleyed home from eight yards out:

That score gave Cork belief and it was Mark Cronin that convinced them this game was there to be grabbed, and won.

Cronin’s first [below] was pure instinct has he snatched a stray shot before it drifted wide before spinning and crashing his side’s second goal in:

Cronin then bagged his second, on 17 minutes, and Cork suddenly found themselves level. They kicked on again and went in two points up [3-6 to 1-13] at the break.

Those conceded goals appeared to have put the wind in Cork’s sails while torching Dublin’s. Cork, inspired by Cathal O’Mahony and his dead-eyed scores, added 10 more points in the second half.

Dublin, utterly beaten, dejected and out of ideas, just managed a solitary point after the break and went on to lose by eight. From nine clear to losers by eight, the 17-point turnaround really had to be seen to be believed.

In a post-game interview with TG4, Cork forward and ‘Laoch na hImeartha’ Cathal O’Mahony delivered some inspirational words:

“I think [our slow start] was just nerves, and the big occasion. It’s our first time to play in any big match like this and, I don’t know, maybe we didn’t concentrate as much as we would have hoped to, but we kept sticking to it.”

He added, “When we got that first goal and heard that cheer from the crowd, it opened our eyes that small bit, just to say, ‘We are in an All-Ireland final and we need to start playing,’ and jeez the crowd were unbelievable…

“Before the match, [Cork boss] Keith Ricken said, ‘Hope never shatters’. So if we dropped a ball, the whole county will still be behind us and if we score a goal, the whole county will still be behind us. Hope never dies and we just kept hoping.

“As he’s said all year, we’re dogs and dog that fight in a pack. So we just kept our pack going and we kept our county going.”

This was Cork’s first ever U20 final victory but their 12th overall, when considered with the now defunct U21 championship.

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