Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Cathal O’Mahony speaking after his side's win.
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'Hope never dies': O'Mahony offers rallying cry as Cork are crowned U20 All-Ireland champions
Cork overcame Dublin in a thrilling All-Ireland U20 football final at O’Moore Park on Saturday.

CORK’S LEADING MAN Cathal O’Mahony said he and his team-mates never gave up hope during a thrilling All-Ireland U20 final on Saturday afternoon at O’Moore Park.

The Rebel County were stunned in the opening exchanges in Portlaoise, trailing 1-6 to no score after just 10 minutes.

Keith Ricken’s side fired back, however, scoring three goals in four minutes courtesy of Blake Murphy, Mark Cronin and Colm O’Callaghan.

Cork went from strength to strength after half-time, seeing out an impressive 3-16 to 1-14 victory to be crowned All-Ireland champions.

“It’s amazing,” O’Mahony told TG4 after full-time. “Jeez, we thought it was gone in the first ten minutes there, but it was the same as the Tyrone game.

“We just kept to our system, kept to our way and we trusted each other. We knew we’d come through eventually, it was just a matter of time.”

Accurate from set-pieces with three crucial frees, O’Mahony scored 0-4 during Saturday’s enticing final, but admitted that Cork were caught in the headlights during the opening ten minutes.

“Personally I just think it was nerves, just the big occasion,” he said. “It’s our first time playing in any big match like this. We just didn’t concentrate as much as we’d hoped to, but we just kept sticking to it.

“When we got that first goal — the cheer from the crowd, it just opened our eyes a small bit that we are in an All-Ireland final and that we needed to start playing. The crowd was brilliant. Every turnover, every score, it lifted us immensely.”

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The Mitchelstown clubman said manager Ricken was a source of inspiration for the entire panel in the build-up to this weekend’s U20 final.

“Before the match he said ‘hope never shatters’. If we dropped the ball the whole county stayed behind us, and when we scored the whole county stayed behind us.

“Hope never dies, and we just kept hoping. As we’ve said all year long, we’re dogs — and dogs fight in packs. We kept our pack going and we kept the county going.”

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