herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Rivals quiver as Archer hits the bullseye

Dublin’s Ciarán Archer
Dublin’s Ciarán Archer

There is nothing complicated in the dictionary definition. An archer is someone who shoots arrows from a bow "for sport or as a weapon."

Ciarán Archer's bow comes in the guise of a New Balance boot. The settings may have been off-Broadway, but there hasn't been a more lethal weapon in Gaelic football, through the month of July, than Archer's predatory left boot.

As Dublin advanced through the killings fields of Leinster, then overcame Galway in last Saturday's EirGrid U20 semi-final, one player illuminated the run like no other. The young man from St Maur's, in north county Dublin, has hit a staggering 8-30 in just four games, comprising 6-7 from play, two converted penalties and 23 frees.

His scoring stats have been so far off the charts that, even in this era of unparalleled Dublin attacking riches, observers are inevitably asking questions ... could he be the next Con O'Callaghan, the last great scoring machine to come off the capital's underage conveyor belt?

Archer has already come across the radar of Dublin's senior management while playing for Maur's in the Dublin Senior 2 FC in April.

Now, as we move into August, comes the final act of this U20 campaign: today's All-Ireland decider against Cork in Portlaoise (4pm, live on TG4). Incredibly, win or lose, he has another year in the grade.

The one caveat about his scoring returns in Leinster was the standard of opposition as he amassed 2-8 against Longford and 1-8 against Wexford.

In the provincial final, though, Laois were meant to pose some serious questions ... instead they had no answer to Archer, whose 3-8 matched the losers' total of 0-17.

With his sinewy physique, he is a different animal to the aforementioned O'Callaghan ... but his calmness when a goal chance presents itself bespeaks a natural poacher. Anyone who spied his second goal against Laois, pouncing on a deflected loose ball to find the bottom corner with a first-time finish, won't be surprised to learn that he has played soccer at a high level.

Eight days later came another 2-6 against Galway. The first of his two early goals showcased the best of Archer: the balance and fast feet to create a gap between two defenders out of nothing, then the instant bullet finish to the bullseye.

Cork are forewarned. Will that be enough?

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