Dublin co-captains Con O’Callaghan, left, and Cillian O’Shea lift the All-Ireland football championship trophy

CUALA’S Con O’Callaghan and Kilmacud Crokes’ Cillian O’Shea co-captained Dublin to a piece of history as they defeated Galway by 2-13 to 2-7 at Tullamore’s O’Connor Park in the last-ever Under-21 All-Ireland football final.
Galway, clearly identifying O’Callaghan as Dublin’s danger man, tasked Sean Andy O’Ceallaigh with the unattractive job of marking their opponent’s co-captain out of the game, but the move proved fruitful as he was restricted to a score of 1-1.
The clash between the two sides was the first time in 15 years that they have met in an Inder-21 All-Ireland final, while it was also the first time the players in the Dublin panel had come up against Galway at any age level so they were heading into something of the unknown.
Maybe for this very reason, the game started off slowly with both sides taking a while to get into their rhythm. However, Dublin notched the first two scores through Glenn O’Reilly and an O’Callaghan free.
Michael Daly responded for Galway in the seventh minute, but Colm Basquel hit back with two points to hold a 0-4 to 0-1 lead 18 minutes in.
Eoin Finnerty and Cillian McDaid reduced the deficit, before O’Reilly and Peter Cooke traded points to leave Dublin going into the break ahead by 0-5 to 0-4.
The second half was a much more dynamic affair with the ‘boys in blue’ moving up a couple of gears. They kicked five points in addition to a goal from O’Callaghan to take a commanding lead after Galway could only muster a single point during the same timeframe.
Galway gave themselves hope with a goal ten minutes from time, which was followed up by a point from Kieran Molloy.
The Dubs responded, however, with a goal of their own from Aaron Byrne to virtually put the game beyond doubt. Colm Brennan scored another goal late on but Dublin were too far ahead to be denied.
Dessie Farrell’s side will now be the last name to be etched onto the Under-21 trophy as the GAA head towards an Under-20 format from next year on.
It was also a last for Farrell – for the time being anyway – as he announced after the game that he would be stepping back from management and not moving into the senior setup.
“My roots have been in the development squad stuff and through to minor and the natural evolution was to take on the 21s. The seniors is a whole different ball game because of the time commitment that’s required at that level. Like this is ridiculous, but at senior level it’s gone to a whole new level.”


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