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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019
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5 talking points from last night's Munster and Ulster U21 football finals

Cork and Cavan marched on while there was disappointment for Tipperary and Donegal.

Cork's Kevin Crowley celebrates with the cup. Cork's Kevin Crowley celebrates. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

1. Confidence coursing through Cork setup

Cork entered last night’s Munster final buoyed by fine form in their games against Kerry and Limerick. A bunch of their players had also made the step up to senior level – in both football and hurling – this spring in a seamless fashion. Conor Dorman, Ian Maguire, Brian O’Driscoll and Sean Kiely all played during UCC’s Sigerson Cup final win in February.

That all added up to a confident group who were eager to showcase their capabilities in front of their home fans. They hit blips last night, notably when shipping goals either side of half-time, but the confidence coursing through their setup enabled them to drive on.

Maguire, Killian O’Hanlon and Kiely gave them the dominant platform around the middle with O’Driscoll, Alan Cadogan and Dan McEoin doing the damage up front while Kevin Crowley raided from deep. They attacked in style – outscoring Tipperary by 0-8 to 0-1 in a 20-minute first-half spell – and despite Tipperary’s recoveries, they deserved their success.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

2. Cavan hit the net and keep clean sheet once more

Cavan got their rewards for staying going to the finish in Armagh last night, reeling off 1-3 without reply in the last four minutes to snatch the spoils from Donegal. That late goal by Liam Buchanan was key as was the early strike by Joe Dillon. But their victory showcased a trait they have displayed throughout their Ulster campaign.

In their four games to date, Cavan’s miserly defence had kept clean sheets. At the opposite end there was no fault in their strike rate as they took Derry for three goals, raised one green flag against Tyrone and Monaghan, before firing home twice against Donegal. Cavan were on the ropes last night but keeping things safe at the back kept them in the hunt and an ability to strike goals secured glory.

Source: ©Russell Pritchard/Presseye

3. Future promise remains for Tipperary

After their 2011 All-Ireland minor win, this season was the time for that Tipperary group to come into their prime at U21 level. They demolished Waterford and Clare but came up short last night for the second successive year against Cork. It means while they have contested six Munster U21 finals in the last eight years, they have suffered five defeats.

But the game still offered evidence of the future promise that remains. Colin O’Riordan’s superb athleticism was on show in his shift at midfield and while Michael Quinlivan was watched closely by the Cork defence, he still hit 0-5 and scored the point of the game, an outrageous long-range effort in the 28th minute. Tipperary may not have triumphed yet are still progressing in a season where their senior side have already claimed promotion.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

4. A galling defeat for Donegal

It’s the second year on the bounce that Donegal have left an Ulster U21 final on a losing note to Cavan but this latest reversal is likely to gnaw at them more. Last year they lost by four points in a game where they trailed throughout.

Last night they led by two points with only 80 seconds left and were dreaming of silverware. But Cavan’s late scoring burst dashed Donegal’s hopes and ensured they will nurse regrest at not sealing the deal.

Ryan McHugh dejected after the game Source: Presseye/Russell Pritchard/INPHO

5. Taking the next step in the All-Ireland series

For all the plaudits rightly going the way of Cork and Cavan for their sterling U21 football work, there is a notable caveat to the praise. They have done their business brilliantly on the provincial stage but taking the next step has been beyond them.

Both counties have lost two All-Ireland semi-finals in the last three years while Galway have defeated both in finals – Cavan 2011 and Cork 2013. A spell of provincial success needs to be capped off by an All-Ireland and that will be the goal driving both setups.

Cavan seal a fourth successive Ulster U21 football title as they see off Donegal

Cork complete Munster U21 four-in-a-row with final victory over Tipperary

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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