Friday 6 December 2019

Archer fires Dubs

Leinster U20 FC final: Dublin 4-18 Laois 0-17

Dublin players celebrate after the EirGrid Leinster U20 Football Championship Final in Tullamore
Dublin players celebrate after the EirGrid Leinster U20 Football Championship Final in Tullamore

Remember the name - Ciarán Archer. Dublin's prolific No 14 has a surname synonymous with hitting targets and he has been scoring for fun this month.

Last night in Tullamore, however, the St Maur's man saved the best 'til last, his latest haul of 3-8 propelling Tom Gray's U20s to the Leinster summit at the expense of a game but ultimately outclassed Laois.

It was Dublin's first title in the U20 grade but their 15th provincial success when you include their previous U21 triumphs.

Archer had already amassed 3-16 as Dublin cruised past Longford and then Wexford earlier this month. He eclipsed both of his earlier tallies here, nailing a hat-trick that showcased the instincts of a true poacher.

That brought his three-match running total to 6-24, from an overall team tally of 9-56. One can only presume they will march on with confidence to an All-Ireland semi-final against Galway in Longford's Pearse Park this day week, albeit the Connacht champions will surely muster a greater challenge.

Laois, to their credit, enjoyed pockets of dominance and will rue a couple of third-quarter goal chances - for Mark Barry and Alan Kinsella - that flew over the crossbar. That brace reduced the Sky Blues' half-time lead of 1-11 to 0-8 to four points ... even then, though, Laois craved goals to sustain morale and plant even a morsel of Dublin doubt.

Archer had intercepted a short Matthew Byron kickout to clinically dispatch his first goal on 24 minutes, but his second green flag in the 42nd minute was the game's decisive score. The initial chance fell to Ross McGarry but, when his shot was blocked, Archer swooped on the loose ball, finishing first time off his trusty left.

Even though Laois briefly cut the deficit to six, their resistance totally cracked in the 49th minute thanks to a brilliant third Dublin goal.


Fittingly, it was scored by marauding wing-back Kieran Kennedy, their second most influential performer, who slipped a pass to Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne and raced onto the return ball before calming slotting past Byron, the son of former All Star 'keeper Fergal.

From there on it unravelled for Laois, who lost wing-back Colin Slevin to a 52nd minute red card, cited for striking James Doran after he had fouled the Dublin forward.

Three minutes later Archer compounded their misery, putting Byron the wrong way from a penalty awarded after Ó Cofaigh Byrne was fouled by Eoin Dunne.

Earlier, even as a monsoon swept across the midlands, the downpours mostly avoided O'Connor Park.

The first half was a weirdly roller coaster affair. Dublin opened with ominous intent and had four unanswered points inside six minutes.

During that early blitz, Archer had been influential without yet hogging the headlines. He had an assist for Seán Lambe's early goal chance, which veered over after crashing against the bar; then he drew a free converted by McGarry; and finally he took a pass on the loop for an effortless left-footed point.

Then, just as suddenly, the contest was transformed. Diarmuid Whelan's eighth minute free ignited a flurry of Laois dominance.

Whelan added two more from play and when the Laois captain nailed another free, his fourth score, in the 16th minute, they led by 0-6 to 0-5.

Dublin's response was even more emphatic: they shot the next 1-5 in a seven-minute shell-burst, to leave Laois playing an ultimately impossible game of catch-up.

Scorers - DUBLIN: C Archer 3-8 (1-0 pen, 7f), K Kennedy 1-0, J Doran 0-3, B O'Leary, R McGarry (1f) 0-2 each, K Lynch Bissett, S Lambe, N O'Leary 0-1 each. LAOIS: D Whelan 0-8 (6f), A Kinsella, M Barry (1f) 0-2 each, M Doran, R Coffey, J Owens, E Dunne, N Dunne 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: D O'Hanlon; D Maher, D Newcombe, E O'Dea; K Kennedy, N Matthews, S Lambe; P Ó Cofaigh Byrne, D Ryan; N O'Leary, K Lynch Bissett, J Doran; B O'Leary, C Archer, R McGarry. Subs: D Lacey for Ryan (43), H Ladd for B O'Leary (55), A Lynch for Maher (55), C Kinsella for O'Dea (58), M Lavin for N O'Leary (60), S Foran for Kennedy (60).

LAOIS: M Byron; M Dowling, S Lacey, A Mohan; C Slevin, S O'Flynn, D Brophy; R Tyrell, E Dunne; M Barry, M Doran, R Coffey; A Kinsella, D McCormack, D Whelan. Subs: J Owens for Doran (37), N Dunne for McCormack (38), J Maher for Coffey (48), K Byrne for Lacey (55), R Brennan for Brophy (58), J Lacey for Mohan (58).

REF: B Cawley (Kildare)

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