Talented group of Cork footballers and focused management team deserve huge credit for going the extra mile at Croker

Talented group of Cork footballers and focused management team deserve huge credit for going the extra mile at Croker
Conor Corbett celebrates scoring their second goal of the game to force extra time. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Cork 3-20 Galway 3-14 (after extra time)

IT took an extra special effort from the Cork minors at Croke Park but when the final whistle sounded they were All-Ireland champions.

After conceding a goal late in normal time it appeared their hopes of a first trophy at this grade since 2000 were set to be crushed but Conor Corbett responded with a stunning strike to level. Galway then missed a free to win the game at the death. It was a let-off, no doubt, but in the additional 20 minutes, Cork were immense.

Corbett, the captain, was deadly inside, his haul of 1-7 from play quite remarkable, but so too was sub Ryan O’Donovan, whose goal early in extra time set the tone for the Rebels to power on.

Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Jack Cahalane had raised the first green flag for Cork and while they took time to get to grips with Galway’s swarm defence, they were worthy winners in the end.

Keeper Cian O’Leary made some crucial stops while Hugh Murphy, Kealan Scannell and Michael O’Neill, who assisted two goals, made a series of big plays. O’Donovan, Daniel Linehan and another sub Seán Andrews were also to the fore.

You could name everyone who featured though, this was a heroic effort and it’s taken a lot of quality football and no little belief to come through the backdoor to capture the big prize having been beaten twice by Kerry in Munster.

It makes it a season to remember not just for Bobbie O’Dwyer’s charges but Cork football as a whole, having landed the U20 crown and with the seniors making the Super 8s.

Conor Counihan is effectively the Director of Football on Leeside now but his five-year plan has only taken the summer to implement.

Special mention must go to the Murphy brothers from Éire Óg, Hugh victorious in Croker while his brother Jack excelled for the U20s.

Hugh Murphy and Michael O'Neill celebrate. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Hugh Murphy and Michael O'Neill celebrate. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

They have Kerry roots and they both carry themselves with a confidence you’d expect from that, but also an innate knack for doing the right thing in possession which comes from a background with Ballincollig Basketball Club.

“Those boys gave everything,” said O’Dwyer after. “We knew coming up it was going to be a tough battle. When the trouble was at its deepest that’s when they lads really dug in.

“Part of our difficulty during the day was because of the way Galway set up we weren’t getting the ball in quickly enough. We knew when Conor, Ryan O’Donovan or Jack Cahalane got fast ball they’d get scores. They say there’s no victory without a battle and that was a battle out there.”

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

They were warriors when the game was on the line, even if the first three-quarters was pockmarked by errors. It was hardly surprising given the stakes and the fact with the drop in minor to U17, the players are younger than ever.

Indeed Douglas’ Eoghan Nash won’t turn 16 until the end of the year, which at 15 means he’s one of the youngest Rebels to triumph on All-Ireland final day on Jones Road.

Tracey Kennedy addresses the Cork team, players and mentors. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Tracey Kennedy addresses the Cork team, players and mentors. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The management team deserve all the plaudits they’ll get for ensuring Cork fulfilled their potential despite the chastening beating they took from Kerry at Páirc Uí Rinn in the provincial opener. They’re a serious crew around O’Dwyer, including Ollie ‘Rue’ O’Sullivan, James McCarthy, Mick Hannon, Billy O'Connor, James McCarthy and James Masters, who captained Cork at minor 19 years ago.

Scorers for Cork: C Corbett 1-8 (0-1 f), R O'Donovan 1-2, M O'Neill 0-5 (0-2 f), J Cahalane 1-1, D Cashman 0-2, P Campbell, L Murphy 0-1 each

Galway: T Culhane 0-10 (0-7 f), N Cunningham 2-0, D Cox 1-2, N Grainger 0-2.

CORK: C O'Leary (Douglas); D Peet (Clonakilty), N Lordan (Ballinora), J O'Shea (Urhan); D Cashman (Millstreet), D Linehan (Castlemagner), A Walsh-Murphy (Valley Rovers); J Lawton (Argideen Rangers), E Nash (Douglas); H Murphy (Éire Óg), P Campbell (Nemo Rangers), J Scannell (Carbery Rangers); M O'Neill (Buttevant), C Corbett (Clyda Rovers), captain, J Cahalane (Castlehaven). 

Subs: S Andrews (Shamrocks) for Peet 34, N Gough (Bishopstown) for O'Shea 45, L Murphy (Cullen) for Nash 50, R O'Donovan (Barryroe) for Cahalane 59, T O'Donoghue (Carrignavar) for Walsh-Murphy 69, Cahalane for Campbell 75, Nash for Lawton 77.

GALWAY: D Halleran; J McGrath, captain, R King, L Tevnan; C Herron, E Fiorentinim K O'Neill; J McLaughlin, D O'Flaherty; E Nolan, W Seoige, D Brady; N Grainger, T Culhane, D Cox. 

Subs: C Gallagher for O'Flaherty 51, N Cunningham for Grainger 56, D Kennedy for Tevnan 59, M Colleran for Brady 65.

Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).

Cork captain Conor Corbett lifts the Tom Markham Cup. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Cork captain Conor Corbett lifts the Tom Markham Cup. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

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