CORK’S football obituary had been penned by many in recent years, but even rumours of the demise were greatly exaggerated on the back of two All-Ireland U20 and minor football titles.
After so much disappointment for much of the decade, few would begrudge Cork’s fantastic double that began with a remarkable comeback against Dublin in the U20 decider.
That campaign was filled with memorable passages of play, putting forward an abundance of passion and endeavour.
Possessing many stars in attack, including Mark Cronin, Blake Murphy and Damien Gore, full-forward Cathal O’Mahony was a revelation.
He contributed generously to wins over Waterford, Kerry, Tyrone and the Dubs, with his pace, ball control and clinical finishing.
The youngsters’ excellence was recognised at the City and County Youth Sports Star Awards hosted in the Metropole Hotel.
This year, was definitely O’Mahony’s most dominant sporting year picking up a Munster and All-Ireland medal with Cork football, along with Player of the Province for Munster and a Man of the Match performance in the All-Ireland final.
Against Dublin in the final, the Mitchelstown star reflected on Cork’s hesitant start and recovering to gain momentum as the game progressed.
“Personally I just think it was nerves, just the big occasion, remember, it was our first time playing in a big match. We just didn’t concentrate as much as we’d hoped to, but we just kept sticking to it,” he said.
“Once we got that first goal, the cheers from the crowd lifted us, it just opened our eyes that we were in an All-Ireland final and that we needed to start playing.”
O’Mahony refers to the biggest influences as his family and William Duggan who was in charge of Mitchelstown CBS schools team for six years and made schools GAA a joy to play. He also credits his Mitchelstown and Ballygiblin clubs stating that they have always been behind him and very supportive.
“Before the All-Ireland win with Cork U20s this year, winning a schools All-Ireland was definitely my favourite sporting highlight,” he said.
Now attention turns to next season and the prospect of getting a call up to the senior squad.
“There are a number of players capable of going to the next step and that will be a challenge. In the next few months, I’m looking forward to contributing to Mary Immaculate College in Limerick in the third level football and hurling competitions,” he said.
O’Mahony said he has massive respect for the Cork U20s management team.
With the mental lessons taught by Keith Ricken and technical skills introduced by Colm O’Neill improved his game.
“Keith was a source of inspiration for the entire panel in the build-up to the All-Ireland and we delivered,” he said.