Incredible, Inspiring and Heroic. Those are just some of the words being used to describe Cork’s U20 Footballers following their incredible All-Ireland final win over Dublin in Portlaoise on Saturday afternoon. Two Carrigaline men, Ian Giltinan and Jack McCarthy, were both part of the squad on the day, with Jack coming off the bench in the final minutes of the game to help close the game out.
You would have gotten good odds on a Cork victory if you tuned in after the first 10 minutes of the contest, as Dublin pounced on Cork’s early apprehension. As each point went over for the Dubs, their already sizeable figures seemed to grow bigger and bigger, seemingly culminating in a David vs Goliath style clash at the beginning of the game.
Playing into a strong breeze, it was tough to watch the Cork ‘keeper springing back to his net to retrieve ball after ball, knowing that each time he did so his team were quickly unravelling. A defensive error which led to a goal, meaning that Dublin had taken a 1-6 to 0-0 lead, signaled for a number of heads to drop in the massive Cork crowd, but luckily for them the same couldn’t be said for the players wearing red on the pitch.
What came to pass from the 11th minute until the 63rd was nothing short of miraculous from a Cork point of view. A goal in the 13thminute from forward, Blake Murphy kicked off the resurrection for the ‘Rebels’ and a booming cheer went around O’Moore Park when the ball crashed into the back of the net.
The goal put a new lease of life into the attending supporters, who had travelled in big numbers, with Cork’s U20 Hurlers playing against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final beforehand. The energy from the crowd filtered down to the players throughout the game and was later described by many as the greatest atmosphere that has ever been created by Cork GAA supporters.
A following point and another goal in just the 16thminute saw Cork now trailing by just two points. The sides were level two minutes later as Cork incredibly ran in a third goal as Dublin were totally cut open and simply could not cope with the Rebels’ momentum. Cork were on a roll and with the ‘Rebel chant’ ringing in their ears they had suddenly become an unstoppable group of players in complete and utter unison.
Dublin stopped the rot and managed to steady themselves and the sides were level four times before the half-time whistle. However, as Cork were given a standing ovation in the cauldron that had become O’Moore Park, they found themselves remarkably two points to the good.
Although Dublin levelled the contest with two early points at the beginning of the second half, they were subsequently outscored by 0-10 to 0-2 for the remainder of the clash. Every point that Cork scored was met with an enormous roar, like a lion in a Roman Coliseum, while babies were lifted into the air as the score board kept ticking over, a truly memorable moment in Cork GAA history.
Carrigaline’s Jack McCarthy was summoned from the bench with a little under 10 minutes remaining, getting his hand on the ball on a couple of occasions. A well-worked point in injury time summed-up the composure of this Cork team and perhaps what the future holds for Cork senior team in years to come.
Congratulations to Cork and especially to Jack and Ian! It was a fantastic day for Cork GAA, after the U20 hurlers defeated Kilkenny to reach the All-Ireland final which takes place in just over two weeks’ time. Ger Collins of Ballinhassig had a fine game in goal for his side and he will look to be on the winning side this year after he was part of the losing U21 team in last year’s final!