Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Ken Sutton/INPHO Cork players react to the final whistle at O'Moore Park.
# Champions
'We talk about the snowflake generation. The dedication, the commitment - I'm proud to be a Cork man today'
Keith Ricken lamented his young players after Cork were crowned U20 All-Ireland champions yesterday.

CORK U20 FOOTBALL manager Keith Ricken praised his side’s ability to put their early disappointments against Dublin behind them to kick on with an All-Ireland winning performance of classy defending and lethal scoring at O’Moore Park.

A first Cork win at the reformed grade looked highly unlikely after Dublin raced into a 1-6 to 0-0 lead after just 12 minutes, but three goals in five minutes soon turned Cork’s fortunes around.

According to Ricken his side’s self belief stems from their motto to treat setbacks and success just the same, but he admitted they were caught out early on and rode their luck after Ciarán Archer’s goal gave Dublin the dream start.

“We said we’d try and push up on Dublin and try to squeeze them. But Dublin are very organised and they were creating the spaces at the back and exploiting it,” said Ricken.

“They were also rotating so we were caught betwixt and between. We had said the alternative was to drop our centre-back back as a holding centre-back. But we were very slow to do that.

“When we did get to grips with it we were lucky when they turned over silly ball, but the lads settled down.

Cork players with captain Peter O'Driscoll Ken Sutton / INPHO Cork were 1-6 to no score down after 10 minutes, but turned the game around. Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

“We have a motto in our team that it’s the same reaction if it goes for us or goes against us. It’s the same reaction for the next ball.

“I know we made a bags of the kick-out when they got the goal and everything seemed to be going wrong but I was very impressed that we won the next ball, worked it up the field and got that goal.

As soon as they got it under their belt they knew this is what it’s all about. You’re going to have good days and you’re going to have bad days, but you can’t lie down on the bad days. You stand up and face it and I’m delighted that they did that.”

Mark Cronin was central to the crucial first goal for Blake Murphy, while he scored the second himself and saw Colm O’Callaghan hit the net for their third strike in the 18th minute.

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After they start they got, Dublin must have been stunned to trail at the interval, but despite levelling soon after they never led again.

Ricken paid tribute to the hard work of both sides and in particular the ability of his players to make many of their own decisions on the field without his guidance.

“We went nine points down today based on a decision that we [the management] had made. All of a sudden we had to rectify that decision. That’s a few things we do, but they make all the decisions on the field so therefore you want to give them.

“I told them the very first day that I’m not their manager, they don’t have a manger they have to manage themselves. I am the team manager but I don’t manage them. That was the ethos that we had all year.

“At the start of each week we’d bring in a theme, we’d talk about love and talk about honesty. We worked on their mental development which was a very important part of everything.

“When you see them connecting with what I’m trying to explain to them and they connect and believe in it, you’re proud. You’re proud of yourself obviously but you’re more proud of them.

“We talk about the snowflake generation I don’t know where people get that from. You see the Dublin lads going at it hammer and tongs, you see the Cork lads going at it hammer and tongs.

“The dedication, the commitment, the enthusiasm, I am absolutely proud to be a Cork man today.”

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