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9 things to know about tonight's provincial U21 football finals

Cork and Tipperary clash tonight in the Munster decider while Cavan meet Donegal in the Ulster showdown.

Mark Sugrue and Dylan Fitzell will be in opposition tonight.
Mark Sugrue and Dylan Fitzell will be in opposition tonight.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie.

SEMPLE STADIUM HOSTS the Munster U21 football tonight at 7.30pm.

Cork and Tipperary square off at the Thurles venue in search for provincial honours.

Meanwhile Donegal take on Cavan in Brewster Park in Enniskillen at 8pm.

The winners of the two clashes will face off in the Cadbury’s All-Ireland U21 semi-final in Tullamore on April 20th at 3.45pm.

Galway face Kildare in the other semi-final that day at the O’Connor Park venue at 2pm.

Here’s 9 things to know about tonight’s two U21 clashes.

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9. Cork boss John Cleary is well-versed in winning Munster U21 football titles in recent times. Victorious as a player in 1982, he was a selector during Cork’s 4-in-a-row from 2004 to 2007. While as manager, he has lead the Rebels to provincial glory in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

8. He already has senior medals in Ulster (2) and an All-Ireland but Patrick McBrearty will hope to claim an Ulster U21 honour tonight.

The Kilcar attacker has struck 0-12 in Donegal’s two victories to date over Tyrone by 0-15 to 1-6 and against Derry by 2-11 to 0-15.

7. Remember September 18th, 2011? It was a momentous day for Tipperary football as they claimed the county’s first ever All-Ireland minor title against Dublin.

There are nine survivors from that starting fifteen in the Premier U21 team for tonight in Niall and Conor O’Sullivan, Dylan Fitzelle, Seamus Kennedy, Steven O’Brien, Ian Fahey, Bill Maher, Liam McGrath and Michael Quinlivan. Minor manager that day David Power is at the helm for the current U21 side.

David Power celebrating Tipperary’s All-Ireland minor triumph in 2011.
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

6. It’s fair to say that Cavan have caught the eye at U21 level in recent years. They’re aiming for their third successive Ulster title tonight in what is their fourth successive final.

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The county have won ten of their last 11 games in the Ulster U21 championship with Down (3), Monaghan (2), Tyrone (2), Armagh, Fermanagh and Donegal the teams they have conquered in that run. This year’s victories have been against Monaghan by 1-16 to 1-12 and against Down by 1-12 to 0-6.

5. Cork have reached this juncture by virtue of a 0-14 to 2-7 quarter-final win over Kerry and a 2-14 to 0-11 semi-final victory against Limerick. It’s easy to pinpoint the primary attacking threat for the Rebels. West Cork duo Brian Hurley and Dan McEoin have registered 1-18 between them in the two games to date.

Tipperary got the better of Waterford by 1-17 to 0-9 in the quarter-final and Clare by 1-12 to 0-7 in the semi-final. Liam McGrath and Michael Quinlivan are their scoring stars with a combined total of 2-17 to date.

4. Four of Cavan’s current side – Fergal Flanagan, Jason McLoughlin, Turlough Mooney and Jack Brady – are aiming to claim their third successive Ulster U21 medal tonight. Flanagan and Brady have started in the last two deciders.

Cavan’s Jack Brady.
Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

3. It can’t be said that this Tipperary side lack experience of defeating Cork teams. That’s especially true when scanning through results from the minor grade over the last few years. In 2009, Paddy Dalton lined out as Tipperary defeated Cork by 0-13 to 0-10.

Two years later, Gearoid Slattery, Niall and Conor O’Sullivan, Kennedy, Fitzelle, O’Brien, Fahey, Maher, McGrath and Quinlivan were in action as the Premier won by 3-11 to 1-9. And last season, Fitzelle, Maher, O’Brien and Fahey all featured in Tipperary’s 1-10 to 0-9 success.

2. Cavan’s solitary Ulster U21 loss over the last four years was in the 2010 decider against Donegal. Mark McHugh was part of the Donegal side that day with his brother Ryan and cousin Eoin part of the current Donegal U21 team.

1. Cork are bidding for a three-in-a-row in the Munster U21 grade tonight and there are plenty players aiming to achieve that feat.

Damien Cahalane, Alan Cronin, Tomas Clancy, Jamie Wall and John O’Rourke have all started in the last two final victories. In addition Luke Connolly, Mark Sugrue and Brian Hurley were in the starting 15 that triumphed in Tralee last year.

The Cork team celebrating after last year’s U21 victory.
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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