THE Cork minor footballers are the September winners of the Rebel Óg Monthly Awards. The event is sponsored by the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs and Cummins Sports (award sponsors) in association with The Echo and Red FM, (media partners).
Cork is basking in the warm glow of a first All-Ireland Minor victory in 19 years. That the win was secured in some style in extra time, 3-20 to 3.14, after a dramatic late Conor Corbett goal saved the Rebels in the first place, and coming a month after a stunning comeback landed the U20 All-Ireland, adds to feeling that something special is happening.
None of the young guns in the Minor or U20 squads were known to the wider sporting public on Leeside before the summer, now Corbett, scorer of a majestic 1-7 from play in the minor final, and Cathal O’Mahony, free-taker supreme for the U20s, are cast as leading lights of the new wave.
The style of play the minors collected silverware with, a blend of hard running and kick-passing, was highly appealing, and had the self-belief, that confidence bordering on cockiness, that is often described as ‘Corkness’.
At least the kids of Cork have new heroes to look up to, which will have a terrific benefit in the medium term.
In the final itself there was 62 minutes and 48 seconds on the clock when Galway sub, Niall Cunningham, blasted the ball to the Cork net to put them 2-13 to 1-13 clear.
Referee Noel Mooney had allotted four minutes of injury-time so the reality was that this group in red had all of 70 seconds to get back in the frame for the All-Ireland silverware on offer. As it turned out, this Cork class didn’t need 70 seconds, they only required 40.
Goalkeeper Cian O’Leary didn’t hang about in getting the ball back in play; Cork retained possession from his restart, with a long punt from the 65-metre line sailing in over the head of Galway defenders Jonathan McGrath and Ruairí King and into the arms of Conor Corbett. The Cork captain, cool as a breeze, jinked past Galway goalkeeper Donie Halleran before rolling the ball into the net to tie the game and the rest, as they say, is history.