Cork minors relishing the opportunity to shine in front of a full house at Croker

Cork minors relishing the opportunity to shine in front of a full house at Croker
Patrick Campbell of Cork in action against Cian Maguire of Monaghan. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

IF Cork's last appearance in an All-Ireland minor football semi-final is any yardstick then this afternoon's showdown with Mayo at Croke Park at 3pm promises much.

Nine years ago, the class of 2010 lined up against another Connacht powerhouse, Galway, who scored five goals and still managed to end up losing by a point.

Incredibly, Cork trailed by three goals, 5-6 to 2-6, entering the closing quarter and all seemed lost until they dug deep to reel in Galway and win by 3-15 to 5-8.

Éire Óg's Kevin Hallissey contributed 2-2, including knocking over the equalising point three minutes from the end.

He grabbed his second goal in the 46th minute as Cork, then, hit five points in succession to level the game with Hallissey nailing a boomer from distance.

Castlehaven's Brian Hurley decided the game in injury-time when he kicked three points of his 1-5 tally, including the winner in the fourth minute of time added on.

Brian Hurley in the 2010 minor semi. Picture: David Maher/SPORTSFILE
Brian Hurley in the 2010 minor semi. Picture: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

The Cork team was: D Hanrahan (Douglas); J Goggin (St Finbarr's), M O’Shea (Glengarrife), D Murphy (Ballincollig); D Lester (Bishopstown), T Clancy (Clonakilty), J Wall (Kilbrittain); J Burns (St Finbarr's), D Cahalane (Castlehaven); J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), D Fitzgerald (Kiskeam), A Cronin (Nemo Rangers); K Hallisey (Éire Óg), M Sugrue (Bandon), B Hurley (Castlehaven). 

Subs: D McEoin (Ilen Rovers) for Fitzgerald, K Fulignati (Nemo Rangers) for Murphy, C O’Sullivan (Clyda Rovers) for Goggin, S O’Mahony (Gabriel Rangers) for Sugrue, T Hegarty (O'Donovan Rossa) for Lester.

Michael Donaghy, Tyrone, battles Tom Hegarty in the 2010 minor final. Picture: Brian Lawless/SPORTSFILE
Michael Donaghy, Tyrone, battles Tom Hegarty in the 2010 minor final. Picture: Brian Lawless/SPORTSFILE

Cork go into this afternoon's game as underdogs and will have to cope with tens of thousands of Mayo supporters, as well.

The 'sold out' signs will be up at Croker as excitement builds for the Dublin-Mayo senior semi-final shoot-out at 5pm.

Cork manager Bobbie O'Dwyer knows what's coming down the tracks from the Connacht champions.

“We played Mayo earlier in the year and have seen them a couple of times, as well. We've been keeping close tabs on them.

“Mayo are a very big strong footballing side and that physicality stands out.

“They also like to go for goals as they showed in the quarter-final against Dublin, when scoring five.

“Mayo run hard at you and you have to be on your toes to make sure they don't score as many goals as they would like to.

“They are a genuinely good team, but our lads were happy with the way they played against Monaghan.

“It was the first time all year we had all our outfield players available and fit for selection. That makes a huge difference in how we perform,” he said.

Cork are relishing the chance to sample playing at headquarters in front of a partisan crowd for the first time with just an hour separating them from an All-Ireland final.

“These are exciting times for everyone involved. I'm delighted for the young fellows themselves to get the opportunity to play in Croke Park, in the first instance, and in front of a sell-out crowd by the looks of it.

“I guess with all the Mayo people there that's going to be a big boost for their minors, but at the same time it's a great opportunity for our fellows to showcase their talents.

“It's every child's dream of representing their county and playing in Croke Park.

“And there's also the carrot of playing in an All-Ireland final, but to do that we will have to get over a very strong Mayo team, who are worthy Connacht champions.

“They are hot favourites, but our lads won't be afraid and are going to up to meet them in the battle.

“There's wonderful excitement in the panel. It's amazing, when you're dealing with young people because they have no fear as some adults do. They just see the opportunity to showcase their talents,” O'Dwyer added.

The winners play either Kerry or Galway in the final. They meet at Croke Park tomorrow at 1.30 before the Kerry-Tyrone senior semi-final.

Kerry have won their last 34 games in the grade and are seeking a sixth successive All-Ireland. They defeated by 1-12 to 0-9 last time out in the quarter-final.

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