Cork and Galway Minors competing in third chance saloon
Electric Ireland All-Ireland MFC Final preview: Cork v Galway (1pm, Croke Park)
THREE strikes and you’re out. The traditionalists won’t like it but only a third defeat of their Championship campaigns will deprive one of these teams of the Tom Markham Cup.
Kerry will feel pretty hard done by that they’re not contesting a record-extending sixth consecutive final after the Kingdom lads were edged out by Galway in a gripping All-Ireland semi-final. That defeat, by the minimum margin, was the first for a Kerry minor football team since the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final against Tyrone, after which the Kingdom won 34 consecutive matches.
Even after causing that shock, though, the Tribeslads may not be favourites against a free-scoring Cork outfit which has bounced back from two defeats by Kerry in the Munster championship.
Galway themselves lost twice in Connacht, in their opener against Roscommon and the final against Mayo, although they had beaten the latter well in the round robin series.
Clearly neither of these two teams are lacking in resilience – and both can boast serious scoring power too.
Galway have averaged a tally of 21 over their seven matches, scoring a total of 11-114, but that is heavily skewed by a tally of 5-24 against Leitrim.
Their most impressive stat is actually their defensive record, conceding only four goals (one of those against Leitrim) and none so far in their two matches in the All-Ireland series. Their total concession has been 4-88, an average of just over 14 against.
Cork’s attack appears to have really clicked into gear as their season has gone one. They notched just 1-9 in an initial 16-point hammering by Kerry in Pairc Ui Rinn, but then registered 3-9 against Clare and 2-14 in the provincial decider – the Kingdom prevailed by scoring 3-14.
The young Rebels have really caught the eye outside Munster, thrashing Ulster champions Monaghan (3-19 to 2-10) and comfortably seeing off Connacht champs Mayo by 4-12 to 1-13.
The Cork dangermen appear to be captain Conor Corbett of Clyda Rovers, who netted twice against Mayo and once against Monaghan, and Patrick Campbell of Nemo Rangers, also a goal-scorer in both those games. Those two are also reliable free-takers, along with Michael O’Neill of Buttevant.
Given Galway’s defensive strength, though, it will be interesting to see how Bobbie O’Dwyer’s lads cope if scores are harder to come by tomorrow afternoon.
Galway are seeking a first Minor football crown for a dozen years, since they pipped Derry in 2007, while Cork’s wait is even longer, going back to their success in the 2000 decider against Mayo.
Only goalkeeper Donie Halleran started last year’s four-point final defeat by Kerry, although impressive full-forward Tomo Culhane came off the bench in that game, as did defender Cian Hernon.
Cork will feel they can take advantage of Kerry’s absence – but Galway’s tighter defence may sway this final towards them.
Cork: Cian O'Leary; Adam Walsh Murphy, Daniel Linehan, Daniel Peet; Darragh Cashman, Neil Lordan, Joseph O’Shea; Jack Lawton, Kelan Scannell; Hugh Murphy, Conor Corbett (capt.), Eoghan Nash; Michael O’Neill, Patrick Campbell, Jack Cahalane
Galway: Donie Halleran; Jonathan McGrath, Ruairí King, Liam Tevnan; Cian Hernon, Ethan Fiorentini, Kyle O’Neill; James McLaughlin, Daniel O Flaherty; Evan Nolan, Warren Seoige, Dylan Brady; Nathan Grainger, Tomo Culhane, Daniel Cox.