Cork U20 footballers determined to follow up Kerry victory against Tyrone

Cork U20 footballers determined to follow up Kerry victory against Tyrone
Cathail O'Mahony shoots for goal. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

THE Cork U20 footballers would be entitled to savour their Munster final victory over Kerry for another few days, but already thoughts are turning to the All-Ireland semi-final.

A stunning 3-16 to 0-12 defeat of the Kingdom propelled Keith Ricken's outfit into the last four against Tyrone, with Mark Cronin, Cathail O'Mahony, Damien Gore and Blake Murphy all leading the line in style, while Paul Ring, Gearóid O'Donovan and Brian Hartnett were among the heroes further back the field.

Paul Ring tackles Cathal Ferriter. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Paul Ring tackles Cathal Ferriter. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

It was the style of play, hard-running, ferocious tackling, accurate kick-passing and lethal shooting, that thrilled those in attendance. The hope is that they follow up their excellence against Kerry with a badly-needed All-Ireland, which the group have been gunning for since before the John Kerins Development League and the EirGrid Championship itself.

Nemo marksman Cronin, the younger brother of Alan and Stephen who previously picked up U21 Munster medals, was the official Man of the Match after nailing four first-half points. He explained the Rebels weren't short of self-belief despite a stretch since 2016 without a provincial title at any age. 

"We have confidence in ourselves, even though we were playing Kerry. It was an All-Ireland quarter-final (in our eyes), we've two more games left (to win that). We'll enjoy this but we'll be looking forward to 10 days against Tyrone as well.

"This year we'd been close in every other grade and we felt like we needed to win. We needed to put one over them, the seniors were close, the juniors were close, the minors were close so it feels very good to beat the Kingdom."

Cronin was part of a crack forward unit but felt the defence deserved huge kudos.

Sean Meehan passes away from Fiachra Clifford. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Sean Meehan passes away from Fiachra Clifford. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

"We believed in ourselves and while we did score 3-16 or whatever, it was our backs. They've marquee forwards like Fiachra Clifford and Donal O'Sullivan man-to-man they took them out of it. We backed ourselves. 100% we knew we got could do this."

Tyrone swept Derry aside in the Ulster final, 4-13 to 1-10. Their marquee man and playmaker is Darragh Canavan, son of Red Hand legend Peter, while Seán Óg McAleer plundered 1-2 from full-forward.

Bobby Dwyer's charges were very impressive in the provincial decider against Kerry, going down 3-14 to 2-14 after a pulsating clash. Kelan Scannell, Conor Corbett, Daniel Linehan and Neil Lordan all caught the eye in that encounter, as did Éire Óg's Hugh Murphy, younger brother of Cork U20 wing-forward Jack.

Cork had been hammered in the opening round against the Kingdom but got their campaign back on track by beating Clare on the road.

Mark Cronin of Cork receives the Man of the Match Award from EirGrid chairman John O’Connor. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Mark Cronin of Cork receives the Man of the Match Award from EirGrid chairman John O’Connor. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

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