IT’S down to the last two in the hunt for the Tesco All-Ireland U16 A title and it’s an all-Munster meeting as old rivals Cork and Tipperary will battle it out for the crown.
Cork are bidding for back-to-back successes and with no championship played in 2020 due to Covid, Cork could very well be now going for four in a row having taken the title in 2019 when they breached a 16-year gap.
It has been a productive few years for Cork at U16 level and the huge work going in at club and county level is paying huge dividends.
This will not be the first meeting of the sides this season.
Nine points separated them in the Munster final when an impressive performance saw Cork, with first-half goals from Louise O’Neill and Grainne Finn, retain their provincial crown on a 2-18 to 3-6 scoreline.
Tipperary have been out of the honours list at U16 level since 2014 and this year under the guidance of Mike Ryan they have gone about reaching this final with impressive displays.
In the group series, they overcame Dublin and Waterford to top the group and book a semi-final place where they overcame a fancied Galway side to make it to the final.
Tipperary dug deep to record a four-point victory on Sunday last in a game where a goal from Ali O’Kelly helped get them over the line in a contest where they trailed at the interval by a point.
Ryan had huge praise for his charges after the contest and he praised the manner in which they responded after the interval: “We told them we have a right chance her but we needed to up our game and they battled to the very end to get through, we delighted to be in the final and we will be going in to give it our very best.”
Cork easily accounted for Wexford in their semi-final clash with impressive displays from Grainne Finn, Amy Sheppard, Ava Fitzgerald and Kate Fennessy.
Having lost out in the opening game in their group series to Galway, Cork have been superb since that opening round game with excellent victories over Kilkenny, Limerick and Wexford.
Their work-rate has been huge and the will to win is there to be seen.
The competition for places on the starting 15 is huge and with a very strong bench, Donie Daly and his management have been changing their lines out and keeping everyone on their toes.
Captain Keely Goulding has not featured due to a cruciate knee injury picked up earlier in the season but she continued to be a huge part of the set-up.
Tipperary will come into this clash as underdogs having lost out in the Munster final but with players of the calibre of Emer Dwan, Daniele Ryan, Ciara O’Hora and Danielle Ryan they will give it their all in their quest to bridge an eight-year gap and bring the title back to the Premier county.