GAA Football

Tyrone U20s primed for All-Ireland semi-final showdown against Cork

Tyrone manager Paul Devlin gives some instructions during the Eirgrid Ulster U20 Football Championship final against Derry. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

All-Ireland U20 Football Championship semi-final: Cork v Tyrone (tomorrow, O'Connor Park, 4pm, live on

BOTH sides saved their most impressive displays of the season for their provincial final battles against the defending champions and, with silverware now in the cabinet, the pressure is off ahead of tomorrow’s showdown in Tullamore.

In the Ulster decider on July 14, Paul Devlin’s Tyrone youngsters added the prized scalp of Derry to those of Cavan and Down with a deserved 12-point victory that was built on a tight defence and an efficiency up front that saw them hit four goals – two in each half - with Sean og McAleer top scoring with 1-2.

Four days’ later, Kevin Ricken’s Cork made a mockery of their underdogs’ tag by hammering Kerry 3-16 to 0-13 in the Munster final. The manner of their win was enough to convince Tyrone assistant-manager Dermot Carlin that his team are “up against it” tomorrow.

“It’ll be no easy task,” warned the Killyclogher clubman, an All-Ireland winner at minor and senior level with the Red Hands.

“Cork produced the goods against a fancied Kerry side, Kerry had won minor at this age group but Cork upped their game with a strong performance so we’ll be up against it, big style.

“At this stage we’re in bonus territory, the shackles are off and we’ll just go out and play and see how we get on. We did well against Derry, they were missing a few men but we still had to beat them. That was Ulster won so hopefully the boys can go out and express themselves a wee bit more on Sunday.

“You tend to find that within your own county or province it can be a struggle but once you break out the pressure is off and it’s a ‘let’s go for it’ scenario. We’re hoping that will be the attitude of the lads and we’ll see them play the football they can play against Cork.”

Cork scored a whopping 5-23 in their Munster semi-final against Waterford and the free-scoring outfit will be spearheaded tomorrow by the likes of Cathail O’Mahony (2-10 so far) and two-footed Nemo Rangers forward Mark Cronin (1-8).

Tyrone’s scoring average may not be quite as impressive as their counterparts but they have passed some difficult assignments in this campaign.

Against Down in Omagh, the Red Hands had opened up a commanding lead but had to repel a sustained comeback from the visitors in the second half to emerge with a two-point win. In the semi-final against Cavan Tyrone led six points to two at the interval before the Breffni county youngsters found their feet.

The sides traded scores throughout the second half but Tyrone had done enough to win and they saved their most fluent display for the final against Derry.

The Ulster champions have outstanding forwards in the likes of Errigal Ciaran starlet Darragh Canavan, McAleer and Tiarnan Quinn but scores came from all over the field against Derry including goalkeeper Lorcan Quinn, who stroked over a 45, and defenders Conor Quinn and Joe Oguz who both scored goals.

“It’s great that we have a spread of scores coming from everywhere,” said Carlin.

“Darragh and Sean Og are top class forwards but when you have fellas making good runs and giving them support it means that the opposition defence has a lot more to watch and you have more opportunities being created.

“Cork will bring what they bring; it’s really about getting ourselves sorted now. All our lads are flying fit and they can all play good football – as can Cork – it’s just getting that mentality right to push over the line.

“We know we can produce the goods, we’ve seen our boys do it. It just a matter of: Can they do it on Sunday? The U20s is knockout, there’s no backdoor and you don’t get a second crack at it so it’s how you produce the form on the day.

“If we can produce the goods on Sunday we’ll not be far away and we’ll be hoping to push on.”

Cork are a talented outfit and, like all good teams, if they are afforded time and space there is no doubt they have the ability to hurt Tyrone and win this game tomorrow.

Their victory over Kerry was mighty impressive but this versatile and determined Red Hand outfit will present a different proposition and their defensive solidity alongside the proven cutting edge of their forward unit gives them every chance to force a win tomorrow and progress to an All-Ireland final against the winners of Galway versus Dublin.

Paths to the semi-finals


Ulster final: Derry 1-10 Tyrone 4-13

Ulster semi-final: Cavan 0-9 Tyrone 0-13

Ulster quarter-final: Tyrone 2-11 Down 1-12


Munster final: Cork 3-16 Kerry 0-13

Munster semi-final: Cork 5-23 Waterford 0-7

All-Ireland U20 Football Championship semi-final: Galway v Dublin (tomorrow, Pearse Park, Longford, 5pm, live on

A COUPLE of years ago, Kerry’s David Clifford dominated at underage level, this year Dublin’s Ciaran Archer has lit up the U20 Championship.

The Galway U20s have registered a combined 33 points between them in the Connacht Championship. Archer has hit a whopping 7-24 himself in three one-sided Leinster outings.

Like Fossa’s Clifford, Archer comes from a little-known club - St Maurs of Rush – and his devastating finishing power has seen him rack up individual tallies of 3-8, 1-8 and 3-8 again in the Leinster final against Laois.

“We’ve managed the game-to-game quite well, and I’m just looking forward to getting the body right and going again next week against Galway,” said Archer after the

“They are going to be a really good side, we know from playing them in the league we’ve seen what they are about, and we know what we are up against.

“It’s going to be a difficult game, but I’m really looking forward to a good battle.”

Meanwhile, Padraig Joyce’s Galway U20s mixed the potency of forward Liam Costello with some tigerish defending to see off Mayo in the Connacht decider. The young Tribesmen were losing All-Ireland finalists last year and in 2016 so there is a lot of talent coming through but this Pearse Park showdown should prove beyond them. With Archer the man to watch, Dublin get the nod to progress to the decider.

Paths to the semi-finals


Leinster final: Dublin 4-18 Laois 0-17

Leinster semi-final: Dublin 1-17 Wexford 0-6

Leinster quarter-final: Dublin 4-21 Longford 0-7


Connacht final: Galway 0-16 Mayo 0-10

Connacht semi-final: Galway 0-17 Roscommon 1-7

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