Guts, determination and loads of skill... how the Cork U20 footballers stunned Tyrone

Guts, determination and loads of skill... how the Cork U20 footballers stunned Tyrone
Peter O'Driscoll and his team-mates celebrate. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Cork 2-17 Tyrone 1-18

CORK showed guts, determination and buckets of skill to come back from a seven-point deficit early in the second half and clinch a place in their first All-Ireland U20 football final in Tullamore.

The Munster champions looked in trouble, when trailing by 1-13 to 1-6 after 34 minutes, but the sending off of Tyrone midfielder Joe Oguz entering the closing quarter and Cork’s excellent bench, which yielded 1-5 from play, altered the course.

Cork had reduced the margin to four points, 1-15 to 1-11, when Oguz was shown a second yellow card for lashing out at Sean Meehan.

Cork’s response was immediate and decisive, substitute Jack Murphy soloing through for a super goal after 46 minutes before Cathal O’Mahony pointed to restore parity, 2-12 to 1-15, entering the closing 10 minutes.

Tyrone replied with two points to reclaim the advantage, Cork soared in confidence, claiming the next four points.

Three came from replacements, Mark Hodnett, Eanna O’Hanlon and Fionn Herlihy with an O’Mahony free helping Cork edge 2-16 to 1-17 in front in the first of five added on minutes.

Despite losing Meehan and Jack McCarthy to black cards, meaning they finished with 14, Cork closed out the game with Herlihy’s second point to complete a remarkable turnaround.

At the outset, Tyrone played left half-forward Mark McKearney as a sweeper but Cork started promisingly enough with Colm Barrett opening the scoring after only 12 seconds.

Tyrone’s ability at the other end became apparent quickly with a couple of points to cancel out Mark Cronin’s pointed free before O’Mahony edged Cork 0-3 to 0-2 ahead.

Then, Cork received a timely boost with a goal after eight minutes.

Captain Peter O’Driscoll picked out Colm O’Callaghan, now on the edge of the square from the wing, and he set-up Cronin for a tidy finish with a low shot inside the near upright.

Tyrone then lost centre-back Antoin Fox with an ankle injury, but they shrugged off that setback by conjuring a critical goal in the 13th minute.

A quickly taken free by Sean Óg McAleer caught the defence off guard as James Garrity sent the dangerous Darragh Canavan clear and he side-footed home confidently.

Cork’s lead was cut to the minimum, 1-4 to 1-3, though Brian Hartnett popped up with a fine score following a determined run through the middle as the game entered the second quarter.

Alas, Cork went 18 minutes adding to their tally as Tyrone got a grip around the middle to add three points in a 90-second burst, two more in another four minutes to turn the game on its head.

Oguz’s fielding ability was causing problems in the centre and Cork attempted to rectify this by introducing fit-again O’Hanlon before half-time.

The difficulties posed by McAleer and Tiarnan Quinn were hurting Cork, who fell 1-8 to 1-5 adrift approaching five minutes’ injury-time.

Hartnett was unlucky to see a thundering drive crash against the crossbar at a stage, when Cork desperately needed a boost.

And two more Quinn scores left Cork five adrift before Barrett at last ended the drought, but still 1-10 to 1-6 behind at the interval.

Tyrone stretched their advantage to seven on the resumption only for Cork to show a never-say-die approach and good use of their back-up players more than contributed to a hugely boosting victory.

Scorers for Cork: C O’Mahony 0-6 (0-5 f), M Cronin 1-2 (0-1 f), C Barrett, F Herlihy, E O’Hanlon 0-2 each, B Hartnett, B Murphy, M Hodnett 0-1 each.

Tyrone: T Quinn 0-6 (0-2 f), S Óg McAleer 0-5 (0-2 f), D Canavan 1-1, J Garrity 0-2, M Conroy 0-2 (0-1 f), P Óg McCartan, E Jordan 0-1 each.

CORK: J O’Keeffe (Newmarket); M Mahoney (Knocknagree), M Shanley (Clonakilty), P Ring (Aghabullogue); G O’Donovan (Newcestown), S Meehan (Kiskeam), P O’Driscoll (Ilen Rovers), B Hartnett (Douglas), D O’Connell (Kanturk); C Barrett (St Finbarr’s), B Murphy (St Vincent’s), C O’Callaghan (Eire Og); M Cronin (Nemo Rangers), C O’Mahony (Mitchelstown), D Gore (Kilmacabea).

Subs: E O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) for O’Connell 27, J McCarthy (Carrigaline) for O’Donovan 34, J Murphy (Eire Og) for O’Callaghan 35, F Herlihy (Dohenys) for Murphy 41, M Hodnett (Carbery Rangers) for Mahony 55.

TYRONE: L Quinn; A Clarke, C Quinn, P Mullan; C Grimes, A Fox, C Devlin; R Gormley, captain, J Oguz; P og McCartan, D Canavan, M McKearney; J Garrity, S Óg McAleer, T Quinn.

Subs: C Goodwin for Fox injured 6, D McGuigan for Goodwin, black card 28, E Jordan for McCartan 42, M Conroy for Quinn 46.

Referee: S Laverty (Antrim)

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