Little to choose between Dublin and Mayo in under-21 semi-final

Time for Cork to progress from early promise when they take on Monaghan

Dublin v Mayo, O’Connor Park, Tullamore, Saturday, 2.45 (Live on TG4)

It’s hardly surprising that even the brightest minds in bookmaking can’t pick a winner from this one, concluding that it’s a 50-50 game.

In truth, both Dublin and Mayo are a little fortunate to be still standing in this year’s under-21 championship after both had quite incredible provincial final wins.

In Mayo’s case, a first Connacht title in seven years was secured the hardest way possible.


They trailed Roscommon, the back-to-back provincial champions, for the majority of the game and only took the lead when Liam Irwin fisted in a 57th-minute goal.

Michael Plunkett’s injury-time point ultimately secured the win for Michael Solan’s side.

Irwin was an All-Ireland minor medallist three years ago and is joined by several colleagues from that team including Conor Loftus, a goal scorer for Mayo in this season's Allianz Football League campaign.

They face a Dublin side that, by manager Dessie Farrell’s own admission, isn’t weighed down by big reputations and hence weighty expectations.

Con O’Callaghan, who has kicked tallies of 1-7, 0-5 and 1-7 in the campaign is their only senior panellist.

Shane Clayton may yet get a senior run out soon while Colm Basquel, his AIB All-Ireland club title winning colleague at Ballyboden St Enda's, could be ready too.

Dublin were underdogs against a good Kildare side in the provincial decider and trailed 0-9 to 0-2 after just 25 minutes but, led by O’Callaghan, they fought back to win the Leinster title after extra-time.

DUBLIN: L Molloy; E Murchan, S Clayton, M Cahilan; C O'Shea, S McMahon, E Smith; A Foley, D McIlgorm; C Basquel, B Howard, K Deeley; C Sallier, C O'Callaghan, D Spillane.


Cork v Monaghan, O’Connor Park, Tullamore, Saturday, 4.30 (Live on TG4)

Transferring Munster success to the All-Ireland series has proven a considerable problem for Cork over the years and it is a challenge that awaits them again.

The Rebels have captured 11 of the 17 Munster titles on offer this century – including two four-in-a-rows – though two All-Ireland titles is a relatively poor return on that provincial dominance.

A striking statistic with today’s game in mind is that they’ve lost seven of those 11 semi-finals and their recent form at this stage is poor. They showed impressive character to edge out Kerry in the Munster final though so this could be the year Cork push on.

Cian Dorgan’s point two minutes into injury-time finally saw off Kerry after an epic battle that swung this way and that.

Full-forward Peter Kelleher has played in six of Cork's seven Allianz league games while wing-back Kieran Histon has started for the seniors too.

Monaghan have no recent record to speak of at this level having won a first Ulster title in 17 years. Manager Ciarán McBride spoke of the euphoria in their dressing-room after beating Tyrone by two points in the Ulster final and it remains to be seen if they’ve set that aside.

If they’ve channelled all that adrenaline properly they could steal a surprise final place, the county’s first ever at the grade.

Forwards Ryan McAnespie and Conor McCarthy have featured significantly for their seniors this year.

CORK : A Casey; M McSweeney, J Mullins, D Quinn; K Flahive, S Cronin, K Histon; S White, S O'Leary; S O'Donoghue, S Powter, R Harkin; B Coakley, P Kelleher, M Hurley.