Monday 24 October 2016

Dubs show True Grit to retain U21 crown

Aisling McGing U21 All-Ireland final secured in an absolute thriller

THE celebrated sports-writer, Vincent Hogan, is from Nenagh.

If he had been at McDonagh Park last Sunday afternoon, he would have produced a blockbuster that would have out-sold Fifty Shades.

This was a game that had all the colours of the rainbow - Dublin 0-14; Cork 1-8.

When the final whistle blew, everybody was thinking of an ice-bath. And that was just the spectators!

You won't see a better match all season. It would have done justice to the senior All-Ireland final.


The Tipperary venue produced an electric atmosphere. It's a charming ground with its wooden seats and compact terracing.

People were on their feet with the drama of it all. Nothing was decided until the last bell.

And every moment in between was packed with thrilling action.

The tempo never faded. The fitness and skills of both sides was a tribute to all those hours in the rehearsal studio.

The defending was top notch. No score came on a tray.

The competition began in 2007. It honours the memory of the gifted young Mayo footballer, Aisling McGing.

Before the throw-in, there was a minute's silence, and applause, for the young people who lost their lives in America.

Cork's centre half-forward, Doireann O'Sullivan, showed her class. Meabh Cahalane was brilliant in the number four jersey, while corner-forward, Laura Fitzgerald kicked four tasty frees and two from play.

But, as with Dublin, it was the collective effort that took the prize.

Dublin captain, Carla Rowe, got the Player-of-the-Match. There was no shortage of candidates. But Carla's conviction summed up just what was required.

She began at top-of-the-left. For much of the second period, she came deep foraging for the ball.

Cork had the breeze that blew down the pitch from the score-board end in that second half. Every Dublin player had to put their finger in the dam.

And it was riveting to see Dublin winning the ball in front of their own hall door and constructing a counter-attack with a Bolt of the Blues.

The only goal of the contest came against the flow of the river in the 21st minute. Doireann O'Sullivan was its architect, with Libby Coppinger getting the credit following a mighty scramble.

Yet the Dubs still led by 0-10 to 1-5 at half-time. Their scores coming from Rowe (4), Oonagh White, Niamh Rickard (2), Sarah McCaffrey (2) and last year's skipper, Siobhan Woods.

Cork levelled the tie for the fifth and last time four minutes into the second period. Rowe converted her third free. Meabh O'Sullivan denied Niamh Ryan of a goal with a tremendous save.

Woods sent over another Dublin point. With seven minutes left, Dublin led by a point.

Molly Lamb bravely won the ball at midfield. The move concluded with the impressive White knocking over a point. On the hour, Rowe edged Dublin three ahead.

But, two minutes into stoppage time, Cork won a free some 25 yards out and to the middle of the posts.

Doireann O'Sullivan struck it with power. The ball rebounded off the bar high into the air in front of Dublin's sitting-room window. A frantic tussle for possession ensued. Dublin emerged with the ball . . . and with one of the sweetest and hardest earned victories they'll ever achieve.

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