Dublin v Cork, Saturday, 7.15pm, Nowlan Park, Live on TG4
By Aaron Dunne
DUBLIN U-20 manager Paul O’Brien believes his Leinster-winning heroes can go one better and bring an elusive underage All-Ireland hurling title back to Liffeyside on Saturday when they face Cork in a mouth-watering decider at Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park.
The Crumlin club man masterminded a stunning provincial title-winning campaign that culminated in a sensational Leinster final win two weeks’ ago, but the focus now is on bringing home a rare national title.
“It was great to win Leinster, but we need to kick on and finish the year out now,” O’Brien told the Dublin Gazette this week. “I know in 1965 Liam Martin
captained Dublin to a minor All-Ireland, but I don’t think we’ve won one since then. I don’t think history has any bearing on the game ourselves and Cork are going into on Saturday though.”
“We have the belief that we can go out and put in a performance we can be proud of – and that’ll have us in the mix to win the game.
“Cork won Munster back in December. They were very impressive against Limerick in the semi-final. That game went to extra-time but they kind of ran away with it then in extra-time. Then they played a well-fancied Tipperary in the Munster final and performed really well.
“They have a number of lads that would have played in the National League (at senior level), so they’re a very good team. Similar to the Galway game, they’ll go in as favourites.
“But that’s not something that’s really a factor within our camp. We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and look to deliver the perfomance we know we’re capable of.
“When it comes to the media I don’t think a lot of people really know what’s going on within team’s camps because teams are so isolated now in training and everything.
“The game will take on a life of its own for the 60 minutes or however long it is. It won’t be people in the crowd or anyone outside the white lines that will have a bearing on the game, it’ll be the lads on the field. I didn’t see some of the results last week coming, but that’s sport. No one really knows what’s going to happen.
“It’s just another game – but it just happens to have a big outcome at the end.”