Cavan minors won't stop the Kingdom juggernaut
All-Ireland Minor Football Championship semi-final: Cavan v Kerry (tomorrow, Croke Park, 1.30pm, live on TG4)
IT’S one thing dominating a competition with the same crop of players available to you all the time, it’s another thing controlling it when your pick changes every year.
Kerry’s recent success at minor level has been a thing of beauty. When they meet Cavan in the semi-final at Croke Park tomorrow, they will carry with them a 22-game winning streak that has secured three All-Ireland and four Munster titles.
Tyrone have the honour of being the last side to beat them with David Mulgrew, Lee Brennan and AFL star Conor McKenna helping the Red Hands to an All-Ireland quarter-final win back in 2013. Even then they needed extra time.
What’s even more frightening for John Brady’s Cavan side is that this year’s Kingdom outfit looks the strongest yet with all four of their games being won by double-digit margins.
David Clifford’s sensational form in last year’s run to the Tom Markham Cup, as well as starring as St Brendan’s won the Hogan Cup last March, made him look like a man amongst boys. Incredibly, he is still minor this year.
He has proven to be no one-season wonder either with the Fossa man contributing 3-27 for Peter Keane’s side. Amazingly, 3-20 of that has come from play.
That’s a major red flag for a Breffni defence that has taken its fair share of criticism this year. Their progress to the Ulster final, where they lost to Derry, was attributed to a stunning attack compensating for a loose defence.
Well there was certainly a blow struck for the defenders in their All-Ireland quarter-final as they held a previously rampant Galway side to just 11 points.
They were without captain and full-back Paddy Meade while defenders Killian Brady (22 minutes) and Cormac Timoney (32 minutes) were black-carded, but the likes of Evaan Fortune, John Cooke and Philip Nulty stood up when it mattered most.
Still, it was attacker and creator Cian Madden who was Man of the Match against the Tribesmen as he continued his sensational form. His inter-play with Gowna clubmate Oisin Pierson has been a prominent plus point in the county’s march to the last four. Throw into the mix Ruairi Curran, younger brother of Cliftonville star Chris, and it’s clear that they have an attack that can trouble the seemingly unbeatable Kingdom.
Trouble is as far as they’ll get though.
Kerry, Cork and Dublin have all won three All-Ireland Minor titles in a row. The Kingdom will at least get the chance to make history next month.