Roscommon and Offaly face off in intriguing under-20 football decider

Offaly will need to thwart Roscommon’s goal-scoring threat at Croke Park

Roscommon’s James Fitzpatrick has scored five goals in four games on the way to the All-Ireland under-20 final. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Roscommon’s James Fitzpatrick has scored five goals in four games on the way to the All-Ireland under-20 final. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

EirGrid All-Ireland U-20 football final: Roscommon v Offaly, Croke Park, Sunday 1.30 – Live on TG4

An All-Ireland under-20 football decider that comes loaded with intrigue.

For starters, if Offaly win at Croke Park and claim a first title at the under-20/under-21 grade since 1988, will captain Kieran Dolan be available to lift the cup?

A hamstring injury ruled the Shamrocks man out of the Leinster final defeat of Dublin and the All-Ireland semi-final win over Cork, though management appear to be positive about his chances.

Or perhaps Roscommon will bludgeon their midlands neighbours with goals, having already shot a dozen in four games.

James Fitzpatrick has scored five of those for Roscommon, including one in the Connacht final win over Mayo and another against Down last weekend.

That win over Down was a memorable one, because with five minutes of normal time remaining Roscommon trailed by two points. They would reel off 1-5 without reply from there to win by a flattering six-point margin.

Their scoring threat is clear, though it remains to be seen how they cope with the larger Croke Park pitch and the occasion itself as 24,000 are permitted to attend.

Initially, both counties were only going to get 1,000 tickets each, around 16 per club in Offaly’s case, but the postponement of the Kerry-Tyrone senior game means any Shannonsiders who want to be at the game shouldn’t have too much trouble getting a pass.

Offaly’s Cormac Egan celebrates at the final whistle after the in over Dublin in the Leinster under-20 final. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Offaly’s Cormac Egan celebrates at the final whistle after the in over Dublin in the Leinster under-20 final. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Offaly are slight favourites, perhaps as a result of the good vibes generally in the county after a positive year – star forward Cormac Egan, Tom Hyland and John Furlong also lined out in the delayed 2020 Leinster minor final – as much as anything else.

The big pitch mightn’t be a major issue for Offaly either with manager Declan Kelly noting this week that, “I think the dimensions of O’Connor Park [in Tullamore] are slightly bigger than Croke Park”.

Roscommon have more recent form at the grade as they contested finals in 2012 and 2014, although their last under-21 win was all of 43 years ago. In truth, all of that is probably irrelevant to the current team. Manager Liam Tully isn’t even reading much into a challenge game they contested as recently as the Bank Holiday Monday in June. For the record, Tully’s Roscommon won.

“Look, we were in development and both sides were trying to figure out who was going to make the panel, that game was used for that,” said Tully. “The scoreboard? I can’t even remember. You’re telling me we won, I didn’t even pass any heed and I probably wouldn’t have even asked when the game was over who won.”

Referee: Seán Hurson (Tyrone).

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