KILMACUD Crokes’ Ross McGowan, Shane Cunningham, Conor Ferris and David Campbell as well as Conor Mulally and Martin Cahalane of Cuala became All-Ireland champions on Sunday when they lifted the Tom Markham Cup, Dublin’s first minor football championship win since 1984.
In a dramatic showdown at Croke Park on Sunday, the minors faced their fiercest inter-county rivals, Meath, who they had already beaten in the final of the Leinster championship, by a whopping 12-point deficit.
However, the All-Ireland final proved to be a tighter affair, with a penalty giving Meath an edge before Dublin tagged on more points to break the spirit of the Royals, who couldn’t match the Boys in Blue in the scoring charts, eventually winning the final 0-14 to 1-5.
David Campbell, who took a tally of 1-6 from the championship, made an appearance from the bench to score Dublin’s final point while his fellow clubman Ross McGowan played very well in the backline along with the influential Naomh Olaf’s man David Byrne who has proven himself as a natural leader as well as a standout player during the Dub’s minor campaign.
Shane Cunningham has also been a crucial member of Dessie Farrell’s All-Ireland winning side, and he was as vocal as ever in his midfield role, breaking down the ball efficiently and distributing well to the forwards through the encounter.
Conor Mulally stapled down a place for himself in the half-back line of the minor side very early on in the championship journey and his relentless performances have been praised by many analysts throughout the campaign.
On Sunday, the Cuala man was up and down the field like a piston and he contributed fantastically well in both in attack and defence, to bolster his side’s efforts for championship silverware.
Byrne, meanwhile, has been touted by many as the key man behind the minor footballers’ success and the Naomh Olaf man’s finger-tip save in the semi final against Kerry will long be cited as one of the campaign’s most memorable moments.
Interviewed after the game, the young captain took time to praise his team mates for their efforts in the campaign that has brought them to All-Ireland glory: “It’s been fantastic, it’s absolutely unreal, we’ve worked so hard for this,” said the Dublin minor captain.
“Serious dedication has gone into this All-Ireland campaign and the whole team have been amazing.
“We’re lucky that we’ve come out the end of it with a result and I’m just so happy. I’m over the moon.”
The young Dublin side have been referred to along with the U-21s as a part of the “conveyor belt” system that the county board have established, with many believing a lot of the players could make it at senior level.