The Cork U20s overturned an early nine-point deficit to secure the county’s first All-Ireland football title since 2010.
Their disastrous opening quarter aside, this was a pretty sensational display from Keith Ricken’s side, full of honesty, composure, hard running, and sublime score-taking.
Having somehow managed to weather the early first-half storm to lead by two at the break, Cork, now with the wind at their backs, broke Dublin’s resolve as the second-half progressed with a series of superb points.
Two-in-a-row from Dublin dangermen Ciarán Archer (free) and Brian O’Leary brought the Leinster champions back level with Cork, at 3-6 to 1-12, six minutes into the second-half, but from there to the finish, Tom Gray’s side were outscored 0-10 to 0-2.
This included two bursts of four and five unanswered points from the winners, including a pair of Cathal O’Mahony frees kicked from close to the 45-metre line in front of the main stand. There was also three Damien Gore points as Cork swept seven clear.
Equally crucial to the outcome was the black card shown to Dublin midfielder Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne on 43 minutes and a second yellow to Dublin centre-forward Karl Lynch Bissett on 51 minutes.
The eight-point win secured Cork a first All-Ireland at this grade since 2009 and if you exclude the juniors victories of this decade, this is the county’s first All-Ireland football title since the Sam Maguire triumph of 2010.
Having played against the wind in the opening half and having found themselves 1-6 to 0-0 behind after 12 minutes, Cork resurrected their bid for All-Ireland silverware with a stunning second quarter to lead by 3-6 to 1-10 at the break, a swing of 11 points.
Under ferocious and relentless pressure during the opening 12 minutes, during which Cork in no way helped themselves with a series of calamity errors, including the botched shirt kick-out which resulted in Ciarán Archer finding the net, Keith Ricken’s charges got off the mark in fine style through a Blake Murphy volleyed goal.
Mark Cronin (free) and James Doran subsequently swapped points before two more Cork goals, on 16 and 17 minutes respectively, tied matters at 3-1 to 1-7 and, in the process, completely unravelled Dublin’s explosive start.
Cronin was responsible for Cork’s second green flag, finding the net from a tight angle after keeping in play a Damien Gore point effort which was heading wide.
Colm O’Callaghan followed with the equaliser, scrambling the ball to the net. Midfielder Daniel O’Connell was the creator here, his hard running through the centre carving open a Dublin full-back line which struggled to deal with Cronin, Cathal O’Mahony, and Gore.
The sides were level on four occasions thereafter before O’Mahony, following a fine Seán Meehan run, nudged the Munster champions in front for the first time one minute into second-half stoppages. O’Connell doubled their lead, meaning the Cork players were given a standing ovation as they returned to the dressing-room. They’d get another at the finish and how both were so richly deserved.
Scorers for Cork: M Cronin (1-3, 0-3 frees); B Murphy (1-2); C O’Mahony (0-3 frees), D Gore (0-4 each); C O’Callaghan (1-0); D O’Connell, J Murphy, F Herlihy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Dunlin: C Archer (1-5, 0-3 frees); B O’Leary (0-3); R McGarry (0-1 free), J Doran (0-2 each); D Ryan, D Lacey (0-1 each).
Cork: J O'Keeffe (Newmarket); M Mahoney (Knocknagree), M Shanley (Clonakilty), P Ring (Aghabullogue); G O'Donovan (Newcestown), S Meehan (Kiskeam), P O'Driscoll (Ilen Rovers); B Hartnett (Douglas), D O'Connell (Kanturk); C Barrett (St Finbarr's), B Murphy (St Vincent’s), C O’Callaghan (Éire Óg); M Cronin (Nemo Rangers), C O'Mahony (Mitchelstown), D Gore (Kilmacabea).
Subs: J Murphy (Éire Óg) for Barrett (38); M Hodnett (Carbery Rangers) for O’Callaghan (41); F Herlihy (Dohenys) for Murphy (50); J McCarthy (Carrigaline) for O’Donovan (57); E O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) for Gore (61); S Hickey (Millstreet) for Ring (62).
Dublin: D O’Hanlon (Na Fianna); E O’Dea (Na Fianna), D Newcombe (Lucan Sarsfields), D Maher (St Patrick’s Donabate); K Kennedy (Ballyboden St Enda’s), N Matthews (Erin’s Isle), S Lambe (St Vincent’s); P Ó Cofaigh Byrne (Cuala), D Ryan (Na Fianna); N O’Leary (Kilmacud Crokes), K Lynch Bissett (Naomh Mearnóg), J Doran (Na Fianna); B O’Leary (Na Fianna), C Archer (St Maur’s), R McGarry (Ballyboden St Enda’s).
Subs: D Lacey (Na Fianna) for N O’Leary (38); H Ladd (Lucan Sarsfields) for Ó Cofaigh Byrne (43); A Lynch (St Sylvester’s) for Maher (54).
Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).