Downey: Cork U20 hurlers already looking forward to Tipp showdown

Downey: Cork U20 hurlers already looking forward to Tipp showdown
Robert Downey. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

CORK will face Tipperary at Thurles in the U20 Munster final after seeing off a resilient Clare challenge at Páirc Uí Rinn.

Sean Twomey bursts past Darragh Lohan, Clare. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Sean Twomey bursts past Darragh Lohan, Clare. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

With Brian Turnbull and Shane O'Regan again leading the line impressively and combining for 0-9 from play, the Rebels simply had too much firepower for the Banner in a 0-24 to 0-15 victory. It helped that Denis Ring's charges had the benefit of last week's quarter-final against Limerick.

Whatever happens from here, Cork are into the All-Ireland semi-finals, along with Tipp and the Leinster pairing Kilkenny and Wexford. They'll need to be better to down the Premier but there was still a lot to like about the display.

Shane O'Regan rises high. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Shane O'Regan rises high. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The visitors were dogged at the back and in senior panellists Aidan McCarthy, Gary Cooney and Diarmuid Ryan had the quality to stay within touching distance until the last quarter. However, Cork had impressive performers in every line.

Tommy O'Connell. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Tommy O'Connell. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Tommy O'Connell started at midfield before a first-half switch with the hard-working Daire Connery and pilfered 0-5. Seán Twomey made his first start at underage level for Cork and chipped in with three points as well as being fouled for four frees.

His size under puck-outs was telling while keeper Ger Collins' distribution and quick reactions were notable.

In the last line of defence, James Keating and Conor O'Callaghan were again teak-tough while Ger Millerick was elevated to the starting 15 following injury and limited O'Connor, who did score 0-4 but two of those were in the dying minutes. 

Seán O'Leary Hayes hoovered up a share of possession while senior wing-back Robert Downey used his height impressively, making four clean catches and always looking to distribute it crisply down the flanks.

It's been a busy summer for Downey, who started three Munster round robin matches but was rested in the qualifier against Westmeath to prioritise his own age. 

He explained he doesn't let the expectation of being a senior impact his games.

John Dwyer, Cork coach. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
John Dwyer, Cork coach. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

"Johnny (Dwyer), Denis (Ring) and the management don't put too much pressure on me and I don't put too much pressure on myself. I know how tough championship hurling is, whether it's club or inter-county, whatever level.

Diarmuid Ryan tackled by Brian Roche and Robert Downey. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Diarmuid Ryan tackled by Brian Roche and Robert Downey. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

"It's about the team at the end of the day. I don't care if I don't touch the ball as long as we win. You just do your job, everybody does their job and you get through it.

"We've loads to work on. We know that."

Craig Hanifin on the move. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Craig Hanifin on the move. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

He'll be in Croke Park this Sunday for Cork's All-Ireland quarter-final against Kilkenny, with the U20 decider at Semple Stadium on Tuesday, July 23.

"I hadn't realised it was up in Thurles but traditionally Cork teams love it up there. Cork hurling teams haven't been up there this year so it's the best pitch in Ireland and it's one to look forward to.

"I was only at senior training to show my face this week. My priority has been this game. The senior game is next now and we'll look forward to that too."

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