Ring and Cork preparing to face down goal-hungry Premier rivals
Rebels’ under-20 side aiming to atone for late defeat in of enthralling Munster decider
Denis Ring, Cork U-20 manager: “From our perspective, we won’t dwell on last year. For us, it has very little relevance because so few of our lads were involved.” Photograph David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Denis Ring was chatting to a pal from Tipperary last Sunday evening when the conversation turned to the next challenge facing the Premier County.
Ring’s Cork under-20s will take on Tipperary this Saturday in the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland hurling final.
Still a little giddy at his county’s senior success, Ring’s pal – apparently an All-Ireland winner himself though unnamed to save him from a lynching by the under-20 management – predicted a Tipp goal glut at the Gaelic Grounds.
Ring described it as one of those joking in earnest comments though we can presume plenty agree with him given how the county has so ruthlessly and relentlessly sought out goals all summer.
From the eight that Séamus Callanan scored for the seniors to the eight that the Tipp under-20s nailed in the semi-final win over Wexford, Tipp teams have rarely spared the net.
“A good friend of mine, who won a couple of All-Irelands with Tipp, said to me only on Sunday night that it will take a great team to keep them within four goals, to stop them scoring any more than that,” said Ring.
“He was basing that on how they are playing and how they have been creating those chances. That is a target. He was saying it half tongue in cheek but he did mean it and the facts are there to support it. That is the challenge in front of us. And it is one we relish.”
Saturday’s meeting will be the fourth final between Tipp and Cork in the last two seasons; two Munster finals and two All-Ireland deciders, the under-21 grade lowered to under-20 this year.
Cork won the 2018 Munster final but in last year’s All-Ireland decider and this year’s provincial final, it was late Tipp goals that stole victories on both occasions. Jake Morris scored the stoppage time goal for Tipp in July’s Munster final that clinched the win and came on for the seniors at Croke Park last Sunday, scoring a point.
Jerome Cahill, another under-20 forward, was an unused sub last weekend and between the duo they scored 3-6 against Wexford in the under-20 championship, 3-5 of which came from play. Throw in the goal threat possessed by Tipp under-20 forwards Andrew Ormond, Billy Seymour and Conor Bowe and you can understand why Ring is on guard.
“They are magnificent to watch, their movement has been exceptional,” he said. “They mirror, to some degree, the senior forward set-up and a lot of people are raving about these fellas. We know from our perspective that the key thing going into this weekend is that goals have been very significant for this Tipp team – 14 in three games, 11 in the last two.
“Obviously something has to be done to reduce that tally and that outlet for them. From our perspective, that is something we are going to have to target. We have been working on ways of doing that. It is going to be difficult.”
Yet Cork clearly won’t lack motivation when they face Tipp, a game that will also evoke memories of their two-game epic at the minor grade in 2017. You suggest to Ring that that minor (U-18) game may actually be more relevant in terms of this weekend’s under-20 game than last year’s under-21 final, though he only partly agrees.
“Tipp would have a massive overlap from the team that played last year,” he noted. “Eoghan Connolly played, Jake Morris was Man of the Match, Paddy Cadell was vice-captain last year, Craig Morgan came on in the final as well, Jerome Cahill got three points off Mark Coleman in the final. So they have a real serious core of their team who were involved last year. That is a real positive for them.
“From our perspective, we won’t dwell on last year. For us, it has very little relevance because so few of our lads were involved. They have no hang-ups or hangover regarding it.”
Cork great Brian Corcoran drew a link recently between Cork’s lack of underage All-Ireland wins – their last U-21 win was in 1998 – and their failure to win a senior title.
“Clearly it is better to win All-Irelands, but the next best thing is to be there contesting them,” said Ring.