All-Ireland Under-20 semi-final
DUBLIN’S Under-20 footballers will contest their first ever Eirgrid All-Ireland Championship final this Saturday, when they take on Cork at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise (4pm).
Tom Gray’s side booked their place in the decider following a 2-14 to 1-10 win over Galway at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford on Saturday last, and once again return to the Midlands for their final clash.
St Maur’s clubman Ciarán Archer was once again in strong form, and after bagging a hat-trick in Dublin’s Leinster final win over Laois, he found the net twice against the Tribesmen.
Archer grabbed two early goals to set Dublin up nicely for this tie, as they led by 2-1 to 0-0 after six minutes following a strong start.
He accounted for all of their opening scores, including a third minute pointed free, with Galway’s defence under strong pressure from the off.
Karl-Lynch Bissett and Brian O’Leary were involved in the build-up to Archer’s first goal, before he found the net for a second time inside two minutes.
Galway fought back well with 1-2 unanswered, as Tony Gill and Padraig Costello added points, before a Brian Harlowe goal.
An Archer pointed free and a brace of Ross McGarry points cancelled out Harlowe’s goal.
Dublin were stringing together some good team moves at this stage, with Neil Matthews, Niall O’Leary, Kieran Kennedy and James Doran impressing.
O’Leary and Doran linked up before Brian O’Leary claimed a well-earned point to push Dublin to a double-scores lead in injury-time.
However, Galway cut the gap at the break thanks to a Tony Gill effort, to ensure a 2-6 to 1-4 half-time score-line.
The Tribesmen fired seven first-half wides, but were more resourceful on the restart, as they worked their way back into this tie to draw level.
Liam Costello, Padraig Costello, Gill and Rory Cunningham were among those who impressed, with Cunningham’s firing over an equaliser on 42 minutes.
But Dublin regained the lead as the game entered the final quarter, thanks to Archer landing their first point of the half from a free, before a David Lacey score pushed them two points clear.
Dublin drove on, with Archer adding a score, before a Brian O’Leary effort helped open up a four-point gap.
Liam Boyle grabbed a point back for Galway, but with Dublin keeper David O’Hanlon pulling off a fine save from a Matthew Tierney effort, and Dublin finished strongly with Archer bringing his tally to 2-6 by the full-time whistle.
Na Fianna’s Dónal Ryan claimed the Eirgrid Man of the Match award, after a solid performance in the midfield sector.
“Galway got a huge amount of momentum at the start of the second-half, scored five points in a row,” said manager Tom Gray reflecting on the win.
“It looked like we couldn’t do too much right at that time. To be fair to the players, I thought they gathered themselves really well, in a very mature way, and played themselves back into the game.
“We were extremely happy with that.”
Cork reached the final after a strong comeback, before recording a 2-17 to 1-18 win over Tyrone in Tullamore on Sunday.
The Rebels trailed by seven points early in the second half, but with Tyrone reduced to 14 men, Cork fought back to win by two.
“We’ll be focused very much on ourselves,” Gray said of the Cork challenge.
“There’s a few things that didn’t go well on Saturday, we’ll be aiming to work on those this week, to the extent that you can.”
“They (Cork) were incredibly impressive against Kerry in terms of their attacking play.
“Equally, last Sunday they scored 2-17. So it’s a huge task for us to keep that score down.”