It felt like the young footballers of Derry and Kerry packed an entire lockdown worth of drama into the closing five minutes of action in yesterday’s 2020 All-Ireland minor football final, when Derry conceded a goal, scored another and then survived a series of late scares to eventually win their first All-Ireland title at this grade since 2002.
Even stripping away the remarkable finale, this was a fantastic contest, laden with skill and intensity and played at a very fast pace, where Derry can look back at any number of crucial moments that could easily have swung another way.
The Kingdom were the better side in the first half certainly, despite conceding the opening two scores, as Keith Evans and William Shine each hit the target twice to help build up an 0-7 to 0-4 interval lead.
Cillian Burke had a goal chance on 39 minutes that was well saved by Kian McGonigle in the Derry goal and, less than 15 seconds later, Derry had swept the ball up the field and Lachlan Murray was palming in the game's first goal.
Derry kicked on to lead by three points, their prosperity built on the foundation of some excellent defensive play from Lee Brady, Eoin McEvoy and Patrick McGurk, but Kerry pegged it back to one going into stoppage time with points from Burke and Cian McMahon.
It seemed as if the Tom Markham cup was headed south when miscommunication on a Derry kickout allowed substitute Maurice O’Connor to sneak in and toe poke the ball over the goal line from all of 15m out, but on the next attack Derry corner forward Niall O’Donnell cut inside two players and fired for goal, with Seán Broderick’s save deemed to be a foot block.
Derry captain Matthew Downey blasted the penalty to the roof of the net, leaving Kerry with just over two minutes to save their championship. Darragh Fleming, Oisín Maunsell and Cian McMahon all had difficult chances fall their way but only McMahon came close, shaving the outside of the post with his free kick from the left sideline in what turned out to be the last play of the game.
Derry scorers M Downey 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), L Murray 1-2, M Doherty 0-2, E McEvoy, C Diamond (f), L Brady, C Downey, N O'Donnell 0-1 each.
Kerry scorers C McMahon 0-4 (0-2f), M O'Connell 1-0, C Burke, O Maunsell, K Evans & W Shine 0-2 each, A O'Shea & S Broderick (45) 0-1 each.
DERRY K McGonigle; P McGurk, L Brady (0-1), A McGonigle; D Gilmore, E McEvoy (0-1), C Sheils; D Higgins, P O'Kane; J McDermott, M Downey (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-2f), M Doherty (0-2); N O'Donnell (0-1), L Murray (1-2), C Diamond (0-1f).
Subs C Downey for Higgins (half-time, temp), C Downey (0-1) for Diamond (38), J Moore for McGonigle (49), R McEldowney for McDermott (59), P McCullagh for Murray (60+3).
KERRY S Broderick (0-1, 45); D O'Callaghan, J Nagle, C O'Donoghue; P O'Leary, A Heinrich, K O'Sullivan; O Maunsell (0-2), C Burke (0-2); T O'Donnell, W Shine (0-2), K Evans (0-2); D O'Sullivan, A O'Shea (0-1), C McMahon (0-4, 0-2f).
Subs J Kissane for D O'Sullivan (43), M O'Connell (1-0) for Shine (45), D Fleming for K O'Sullivan (49).
Referee Jerome Henry (Mayo)