Cork: S. Mellett; D. O’Donovan; D. Cahalane; A. Cronin; J. Cronin; T. Clancy; J. Wall (C. O’Sullivan); R. Deane; E. Healy (B. O’Driscoll); K. Hallisey (0-2f; D.McEoin 0-1f); D. Og Hodnett (0-1); J. O’Rourke (0-2); B. Hurley (0-5; 0-4f); L. Connolly (0-2; 0-1f); M. Sugrue (0-1; A. Cadogan).
Dublin: J. Carty; M. Concarr; K. O’Brien; S. George; L. Fletcher; J. Kelly; J. McCaffrey (1-0); E. O’Conghaile (0-2); D. Byrne (0-1; P. McGuire 0-1); C. Reddan (P. O’Higgins); G. Sweeney (0-1; E. Keogh); M. Schutte (G. Seaver); C. Kilkenny (0-1); P. Ryan (2-3; 0-1f); P. Hudson (0-2; H. Dawson).
A disappointing and rather tame end to the All-Ireland series for the Cork U-21 footballers today as a far superior Dublin team clinically put us to the sword. Sporting a powerful team from 1-15, a much better organised defence and more clinical forwards Dublin dominated the game after then opening 15 minutes and were in first gear for most of the second half handily keeping Cork at bay. In contrast, Cork’s obvious frailties in the full-back line and midfield were obvious, the three goals conceded thanks to organisational errors – poor marking and positioning – while even if Deane and Healy worked hard they were very poor moving the ball forward.
For Dublin, there were a number of excellent performers. George was excellent in the opening half at corner-back while McCaffrey at half-back was also excellent even chiming in with a goal – just as a whole the Dublin backs were consistent and well organised. In midfield O’Conghaile dominated proceedings while both half-forwards were excellent, particularly in the opening half. Elsewhere, and even though Kilkenny is understandably seen as the star of the team, Sweeney, Hudson and Ryan showed the more nuance and touches of class. The latter two in particular got some delightful scores, and considering the sometimes pedestrian play of the Dublin senior forwards as of right now, one would assume that they may be drafted into the senior set up soon enough. All in all the Dublin performance – very much a team display – exemplified the importance of organisation, gym work and conditioning in the modern game.
In contrast, Cork worked hard and played with a decent amount of possession, but we looked ragged and dis-organised in comparison to our opponents. Too often Deane, Hallisey and others ran the ball into Dublin bodies and gave up possession, while the ball into our inside forwards was often poor and inaccurate. In general the Dublin forwards operated in considerably more space then our forwards did, which suggested tactical naivety on our part. Best for us was John O’Rourke who carried the ball as confidently as he always does and was at the heart of Cork’s only good spell in the opening 15 minutes. Elsewhere Brian Hurley was our only consistent threat inside and often looked to have the beating of his man while Connolly and Og Hodnett played well in parts. Hallisey however hit a lot of frankly awful wides. At the back, our inside line was in disarray all day, our two corner-backs in particular struggling badly to deal with the physicality of their men while in front of them Wall had one of his poorest outings, consistently losing track of his man while Cronin often overran the ball along with Deane in midfield. In reality it was a poor team performance overall and one that contained only a handful of decent Cork performances.