The good people at Teneo, the PR arm behind Bord Gais Energy’s sponsorship of the All-Ireland U-20 hurling championship, have quite the couple of weeks ahead of them.
They certainly won’t have to try too hard to sell the August 24 final between Tipperary and Cork to a set of supporters already captivated by the recent rivalry between the two counties.
In just over a year, they have contested two Munster finals and the 2018 All-Ireland final, played at the U-21 grade last year.
They have been remarkable games too, Cork winning the first and Tipperary the latter two courtesy of late goals that will fuel Cork’s desire for revenge later this month.
“Revenge?” mused Tipp boss Liam Cahill after yesterday’s eight-goal semi-final demolition of Wexford,
“Ah I don’t know. I looked back on the Munster final a couple of times and Cork probably deserved to win that game in Thurles. So I don’t know really.”
We can assure Cahill that, yes, revenge will be very much on Cork minds and the fact that Tipp are probably likely to go into that final as favourites after this mauling of the Model County will sit just fine on Leeside.
There is another intriguing aspect to that final in a little under three weeks. It will be six days after the senior showpiece between Tipp and Kilkenny and could present the U-20s with the opportunity to secure a dream double of All-Ireland wins, something they last achieved in 2010.
Liam Sheedy was in charge of the seniors back then, as now. Whether that’s an omen remains to be seen and Cahill, naturally, isn’t about to make any wild predictions.
“It’s a case that Liam Sheedy has his job to do and I have mine to do,” said Cahill. “In fairness to the Tipp seniors, they’re going to prepare well behind the scenes. They have a great chance in two weeks’ time, no more than ourselves. I think they’re both 50-50 games and they’re going to be great matches for the Tipp public.”
That much we can’t argue with. These are good times for Tipp who watched their young stars build on their Munster final win by burying Wexford at a sunny Nowlan Park.
When the game was still a contest early on, Tipp dominated the middle and brought a ferocity Wexford couldn’t handle.
They had four goals racked up by the 22nd minute, the first arriving in the seventh.
Each strike left an imprint on the imagination of the 4,543 who attended though Andrew Ormond’s 22nd minute goal, Tipp’s fourth, summed up their afternoon.
After working hard to win a free, Jake Morris then presided over it and, noticing that Ormond’s man had just got back to his feet after receiving attention, he flicked a quick ball to his teammate in space who blasted to the net. Industry and inspiration.
Tipp refused to let up and grabbed four more goals in the second half. Morris, who struck for one in the 17th minute, and fellow senior Jerome Cahill, who scored his goals in the 32nd and 43rd minutes, were both replaced during the second half, presumably with the two finals in mind.
Tipp rolled on all five of their subs by the 51st minute and Sean Hayes made a pressing case for inclusion against Cork with 1-1 after his introduction including a well-taken 47th-minute goal, Tipp’s seventh, when he finished one handed after a searing run.
Darragh Woods and Joe Fogarty were also on the mark on a day when 10 different Tipp players scored.
Cork may lick their lips at the prospect of Tipp being hyped up ahead of the final but Cahill was happy to see his team display a ravenous appetite for destruction.
“Ruthlessness is the thing - when you get the chances you have to put them away. In fairness to the fellas, when the opportunities arose they went for them.
“I think the scoreline reflected the respect we gave Wexford, we prepared well for the game and didn’t allow ourselves to get carried away in any way, shape or form.”
Cahill argued that there’s still room for improvement, particularly in defence.
“I’d still be a bit critical of our aerial ability when it went in around the square,” he said. “It was very, very worrying when it went in around there when you consider what’s coming down the tracks with Cork with the likes of Shane O’Regan and all these guys that are able to grab that ball from the air.”
J. Morris (1-5, 1 free); A. Ormond, B. Seymour, J. Cahill (2-1 each); S. Hayes (1-1); C. Bowe, D. Woods (1 free)(0-2 each); J. Fogarty, B. O’Mara, J. Ryan (0-1 each).
R. Banville (0-8, 8 frees); S. Keane Carroll (1-0); S. O’Connor, D. Doyle (0-2 each); N. Murphy, C. Clancy, C. Turner (0-1 each).
A. Browne; C. Morgan, E. Connolly, C. McCarthy; N. Heffernan, P. Cadell, B. O’Mara; C. Connolly, J. Ryan; C. Bowe, J. Cahill, G. O’Connor; J. Morris, B. Seymour, A. Ormond.
S. Hayes for O’Connor (30); K. O’Kelly for Ormond (41); J. Fogarty for Morris (45); D. Woods for Cahill (49); M. Purcell for McCarthy (51).
J. Lawlor; E. O’Leary, E. Molloy, C. O’Connor; N. Murphy, M. Kelly, C. Scallan; E. Murphy, J. Reck; C. Fitzhenry, C. McGuckin, C. Clancy; S. Keane Carroll, S. O’Connor, R. Banville.
C. Turner for Keane Carroll (h/t); D. Doyle for S O’Connor (41); B. Maddock for Murphy (51); G. Dempsey for Reck (53); J. Byrne for Banville (58).
C McAllister (Cork)