U20 hurlers crowned Leinster champions in thriller
Wed, 23rd June 2021
LEINSTER (2020) U20HC FINAL
All good things come to those who wait. Dublin are the newly crowned Leinster U20 hurling champions following Wednesday night’s thrilling Bord Gáis Energy provincial final at O’Connor Park, Tullamore.
The competition in terms of games began for these young players last October but owing to Covid lockdowns and restrictions the Leinster decider was delayed until this week.
It was well worth the wait as Dublin captured the Leinster title (Seán Robbins Cup) at this grade for the seventh time and on the first occasion since 2016.
They now go in pursuit of the county’s historic first All-Ireland crown (Cross of Cashel) when they face Cork in the final on the weekend of July 10/11.
After Wednesday night’s heroics Dublin’s man-of-the-match Lee Gannon sounded a determined note.
“There is a first time for everything. That’s the plan. We will enjoy this one, reassess and start planning for Cork. It was an unbelievable win,” said the Whitehall Colmcille man who tallied four excellent points from play in a highly influential showing.
But Dublin had heroes who stood up when required throughout the encounter on all lines of the field and it was their will to win and all-round work-rate that saw them come with a winning surge in the last quarter.
Dublin trailed by two points, 1-13 to 1-15, entering the concluding quarter but brilliant points from Lee Gannon (two) and also Dara Purcell (two) put Paul O’Brien’s side on the road to victory.
The freetaking for Liam Murphy was very important and the Cuala man converted two deadballs, two from long-range, inside the last ten minutes plus added time to seal victory.
Dublin got impact off the bench also with subs Luke McDwyer and Ciarán Foley injecting pace into the Dublin attack to combine with Micheál Murphy in the 62nd minute with Foley being fouled for Liam Murphy to fire over and put Dublin ahead 1-19 to 1-17 – it was a lead they didn’t surrender.
Two minutes earlier Liam Murphy had driven over from over 65 metres after Dublin’s first-half goal-scorer Mark Sweeney had been fouled.
In the opening half the accuracy of Mark Kennedy gave Galway an early advantage before Mark Sweeney’s superb goal when he raced through the heart of the Galway defence before rifling a low shot to the net for Dublin to lead 1-2 to 0-3 after 10 minutes.
By the first water stoppage Dublin were 1-4 to 0-6 clear with points on the restart from Liam Murphy, a free from halfway, and Lee Gannon following good play by Micheál Murphy extending their advantage.
However, Galway struck back with a well executed John Cooney goal after he did well to field a difficult diagonal ball.
Dublin, though, finished the half on a high with a massive score from Darach McBride, after Galway had amassed the three previous scores, a Liam Murphy free and huge free from Dublin keeper Eddie Gibbons.
The Dublin goalkeeper was to have an even bigger contribution in the second half when he made a great save to deny Galway full-forward John Fleming from close range with the sides on level terms, 1-13 each.
After leading 1-11 to 1-8 at half-time Galway restarted the better with points from John Fleming, Donal O’Shea (free) and Mark Kennedy but crucially Dublin showed true grit to reply through Darach McBride and Micheál Murphy, a beautifully struck point on the turn over his shoulder from wide on the right.
But points from Donal O’Shea (two frees) had Galway in pole position at the second water stoppage, 1-15 to 1-13, but with it all to play for.
In the concluding quarter Dublin proved they were worthy provincial champions by taking the game to their opponents.
The brace for points each from Lee Gannon and Dara Purcell, showing terrific snapshot accuracy, put Dublin on their way.
The Dubs almost got in for a second goal in the 51st minute but Liam Murphy had the sliotar flicked away by a brilliantly timed intervention from TJ Brennan.
Dublin weren’t going to be foiled overall as they kept working to the finish to secure victory.
SCORERS – Dublin: L Murphy 0-7 (0-7f), D Purcell, L Gannon 0-4 each, M Sweeney 1-0, M Murphy, D McBride 0-2 each, E Gibbons 0-1 (0-1f). Galway: D O’Shea 0-8 (0-6f, 0-1 65), M Kennedy 0-6, J Cooney 1-0, D Shaughnessy, I McGlynn, J Fleming, F McDonagh 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: E Gibbons; T Kinnane, A Dunphy, A Murphy; E O’Donnell, K Burke, I Ó Heither; M Sweeney, D Power; D McBride, M Murphy, L Gannon; D Purcell, K Desmond, L Murphy. Subs: M Conroy for Kinnane (33), D Leavy for Ó Heither (45), L McDwyer for O’Donnell (50), C Foley for Desmond (52), B Ryan for Power (60+4).
GALWAY: D Fahy; E Lawless, TJ Brennan, J O’Donoghue; D Kilcommins, C Flaherty, D Shaughnessy; A Brett, I McGlynn; C Walsh, M Kennedy, S Neary; J Cooney, J Fleming, D O’Shea. Subs: F McDonagh for Brett (40), S McDonagh for Cooney (48), O Salmon for O’Donoghue (58).
REF: D Hughes (Kilkenny).