Cork stage daring comeback to book place in Under-20 football final
Rebels were seven points down against Tyrone before sending off changed course of game
Mark Cronin (right) scored an early goal for Cork in the All-Ireland Under-20 football semi-final against Tyrone at O’Connor Park in Tullamore. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Cork 2-17 Tyrone 1-18
Cork came from seven points down to triumph in a thrilling All-Ireland Under-20 Football Championship semi-final at O’Connor Park in Tullamore, where a late surge saw them over the line in heroic fashion.
The dismissal of Tyrone midfielder Joe Oguz on a second booking midway through the second half had a big bearing on the outcome.
Cork dominated possession around the central area thereafter and pushed on with 1-6, conceding just 0-3 in the remainder of the game.
A terrific contest delivered generously in terms of passion and open, attacking football, with each side in turn enjoying their spells of dominance, crafting and executing wonderful scores.
Cork Under-20 manager Keith Ricken conceded that the sending off was a hugely significant factor.
“Oh, he was causing problems, but they were causing us problems all over the field, at different times,” he said. “But we started to settle down in terms of holding our discipline, in terms of where we were supposed to be.
“We were turning over ball at that stage when we hadn’t been doing that previous to that. We started winning breaking ball and dirty ball. In fairness to the lads, even though a couple of decisions went against them a lot of times, they stuck with it, didn’t lose their discipline.”
Ricken insisted that his players must deliver more in the final if they are to win an All-Ireland title when the face Dublin in the decider.
“They were seven down and they dug it out. But that performance isn’t good enough. The one thing I am absolutely sure of is that these lads will always die with their boots on.
“And they have done that all year. And there is no evidence to say any different. They are maturing, which is what we want.”
Mark Cronin gave Cork a huge boost with an eighth-minute goal from Colm O’Callaghan’s offload as they went four ahead, but that was the spark that ignited Tyrone’s fire.
They got their challenge going with a Darragh Canavan goal in the 13th minute. He side-footed the ball to the net after Seán Óg McAleer had slipped a quickly taken free kick to Peter Óg McCartan.
And with Conall Grimes raiding from deep, they stretched the Rebel defence with clever movement and excellent support play.
Tiarnan Quinn slotted over a free, and there were scores from McAleer and Canavan, who edged them ahead with a fisted effort.
Quinn’s fourth score had the Ulster champions five clear in stoppage time, and Cork had gone 18 minutes without a score by the time Colm Barrett pulled one back.
With a 1-10 to 1-6 interval lead, Tyrone were in the driving seat, and stretched it further with two more from Quinn, seven points clear early in the second period.
Cork stepped up the intensity, and with the help of three Cathal O’Mahony scores, narrowed the gap to three, before Oguz received his marching orders.
Almost immediately, sub Jack Murphy set the game alight with a wonderful solo goal, and Cork had a new lease of life.
They pushed up on the Tyrone kick-out, and with the extra man, dominated possession around the middle, and with a strong bench which delivered 1-5 from play, they were in the driving seat.
Two points each from Fionn Herlihy and Eanna O’Hanlon made a vital contribution, and they saw the game out with an impressive flourish.
CORK: J O’Keefe; M Mahoney, M Shanley, P Ring; C O’Donovan, S Meehan, P O’Driscoll; B Hartnett (0-1), D O’Connell; C Barrett (0-2), B Murphy, C O’Callaghan; M Cronin (1-2, one free), C O’Mahony (0-7, five frees), D Gore.
Subs: E O’Hanlon (0-2) for O’Connell, J McCarthy for O’Donovan (both 33 mins), J Murphy (1-0) for O’Callaghan (35), F Herlihy (0-2) for B Murphy (41), M Hodnett (0-1) for Mahoney (54), S Hickey for Meehan (b/c, 61)
TYRONE: L Quinn; A Clarke, C Quinn, P Mullan; C Grimes, A Fox, C Devlin; R Gormley, J Oguz; P Óg McCartan (0-1), D Canavan (1-1), M McKearney; J Garrity (0-2), S Og McAleer (0-5, two frees), T Quinn (0-6, two frees).
Subs: C Goodwin for Fox (9 mins), D McGuigan for Goodwin (b/c, 28), E Jordan (0-1) for McCartan (41), M Conroy (0-2, one free) for Quinn (47), M Murnaghan for Devlin (57)
Referee: S Laverty (Antrim).