Kelleher praises Cork spirit

Cork came from behind to beat the DDSL in extra-time yesterday at Tolka Park and win their first FAI Inter-league Youths Cup since 1978.

After losing last year’s decider to Kilkenny in extra-time, the Rebels’ hopes of ending their drought looked grim early in the second half when they fell behind to Alan O’Sullivan’s header

However, the Leesiders equalised through Sean O’Callaghan’s penalty and extra-time goals by Corey Long and Conor O’Driscoll settled the tie.

Cork were on the back foot for most of the first half with Aberdeen-bound striker O’Sullivan a menace for the hosts. Still, they could have forged ahead five minutes before the break when O’Callaghan saw his close-range shot blocked by keeper Nathan Murphy.

The hosts began the second half with more purpose and they edged into the lead on 52 minutes when a sweeping attack culminated with man-of-the-match Peter Hopkins crossing for O’Sullivan to power a downward header into the net.

The trickery of Anthony McAlavery on the wing was Cork’s main attacking outlet and when Adam Zayed tripped the flanker inside the area on 65 minutes, O’Callaghan stepped up to drill the penalty low into the bottom left corner. Ringmahon Rangers goalkeeper David Minhane then kept Cork on terms by saving a Jake Donnelly shot from point-blank range.

Six minutes into extra-time, Cork’s central defensive duo combined to put them 2-1 ahead. Captain Darragh Lucey delivered a free-kick from the right which Long headed past Murphy. The tie was put beyond Dublin two minutes later after the industrious Conor O’Driscoll followed up Murphy’s save from substitute Stephen Mulryan to squeeze his low effort inside the near post.

Cork boss Frank Kelleher said: “Both teams went for it today and, when Dublin didn’t convert their [chances], we always believed the cup could be ours. This team went behind against Limerick and Inishowen along the route to the final so they’ve great character. That was needed again and they showed it.”

DDSL: Nathan Murphy (Stella Maris); Nathan Brown (Stella Maris), Eoin Kinsella (St Kevin’s Boys), Jamie Goonery (Crumlin United), Stephen Dunne (St Patrick’s Athletic); Peter Hopkins (Stella Maris), Mark Sanford (Crumlin United), Adam Zayed (Shelbourne), Conor Mahony (Crumlin United); Alan O’Sullivan (Home Farm), Jake Donnelly (Home Farm).

Subs: Stephen Hevey (Drogheda Utd) for Mahony (36), Sam Verdon (Crumlin Utd) for Hopkins (99), Conor Watts (Ballybrack) for Dunne (104).

CORK YOUTHS: David Minhane (Ringmahon Rangers); Ian Long (College Corinthians), Darragh Lucey (Rockmount), Corey Long (Castleview), Ryan Meaney (Leeds); Anthony McAlavery (Rockmount), Alan Browne (Ringmahon Rangers), Roy Kenny (Ringmahon Rangers), Bobby O’Donoghue (Youghal FC); Sean O’Callaghan (Leeds United), Conor O’Driscoll (Avondale).

Subs: Stephen Mulryan (Leeds) for O’Donoghue (57), Kynan Rocks (Rockmount) for Meaney (73), Mark Murphy (Leeds) for McAlavery (106).

Referee: Dave Jameson (Wicklow).

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