Tribesmen take U21 title in thrilling final

Tribesmen take U21 title in thrilling final

Galway 1-14 Cork 1-11

Galway are All-Ireland U21 football champions for the second time in three years, following a thrilling title shoot-out at the Gaelic Grounds.

A golden spell midway through the second half saw them nail the scores that built a wall that Cork were unable to surmount.

Led by their inspirational captain, Fiontain O Curraoin, the Tribesmen produced some sparkling attacking football while playing into the wind, and defended heroically in the closing stages as Cork went in search of the scores that would rescue their fading dream.

Damien Cahalane opted to play into the breeze after winning the toss, and set his Cork side a challenge to contain a dangerous Galway attack and capitalise on the break.

The Rebels achieved both elements of the strategy with a measure of success, turning around at the break with a manageable four points deficit to make up.

Predictably, it was the Tribesmen who took up the attacking mantle in the early stages, with Shane Walsh, Cathal Mulryan and Adrian Varley shooting them into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead by the 19th minute.

Skipper Fiontain O Curraoin was a driving force in midfield, where his high fielding launched a series of attacks, and the damage would have been worse but for some solid defending from Cahalane and Alan Cronin.

Brian Hurley narrowed the gap with a couple of points, but three wonderful scores from Ian Burke ensured that the Connacht champions held onto a healthy lead throughout the first half.

But there were warning signs when Cork conjured a couple of goal chances, the best of which saw Galway full back James Shaughnessy stick out a boot to deny Luke Connolly.

As half-time approached, the Munster men were looking more threatening in front of goal, and Dan McEoin capitalised on some loose defending to slot over a couple of morale-boosting scores.

At the break, Galway led by 0-9 to 0-5, but two Hurley points trimmed the deficit back, and it was now Galway’s turn to soak up the pressure.

However they were swift and incisive on the counter-attack, picking of points through Burke and Mulryan to restore their four points advantage.

And in the 40th minute they struck for a goal, Damien Comer picking up Adrian Varley’s lay-off to blast the ball to the roof of the net.

Defenders Paul Varley and David Cunnane stepped up to fire over scores as they moved into a nine points lead.

But Cork hit back with a superb goal from, Hurley, who gave Thomas Healy no chance with an angled shot to the top corner of the net.

They added points through Cathal Vaughan and MacEoiun to set up a gripping finish, but Galway had the character, the grit and the defensive nous to hold out for their fifth title at this level.

Galway: T Healy, E Walsh, J Shaughnessy, D Cunnane (0-1), M Loughnane, D Burke, P Varley (0-1), T Flynn, F O Curraoin, C Mulryan (0-3), S Moran, D Comer (1-0), S Walsh (0-4, 4f), A Varley (0-1), I Burke (0-4).

Subs: C Rabbitte for Moran, J Healy for Healy, D Ezergailis for Cunnane, S MAughan for A Varley, G Kelly for Burke.

Cork: D Hanrahan, C Dorman, D Cahalane (0-1, ’45), A Cronin, B O’Driscoll, T Clancy, J Wall, S Kiely, I Maguire, A Cadogan (0-1), M Sugrue, J O’Rourke, D McEoin (0-4, 1f), B Hurley (1-4, 0-1f), L Connolly.

Subs: J Burns for Kiely, C Vaughan (0-1) for Sugrue, TJ Brosnan for Wall, K Hallissey for Cadogan

Referee: D Gough (Meath).

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