Here Eoghan Lordan takes a look back at all the action from the Munster Under-21 Football Championship.
Reigning Munster u-21 Football Champions Cork will take on Tipperary in this year’s final after Seán Hayes’ side defeated Kerry by 1-12 to 1-9 on Wednesday night, in a game which saw the end of Dara Ó Sé’s tenure as manager of the Kingdom’s under-21s side.
The Rebels will now face Tipperary, for the third year in a row, in the final in Thurles on April 9th, looking for a fifth Munster title in as many seasons. The Premier county enjoyed a fine win against Clare last night, by a scoreline of 0-15 to 0-07, and will be looking to become Munster Champions themselves for the first time since 2010.
Cork headed into Wednesday night’s encounter with the Kingdom with a 5-8 to 2-12 quarter-final win over Limerick under their belts, and the Rebels showed no signs of fatigue, putting in a powerful display in the last ten minutes to overcome this young Kerry side.
This one was a battle all the way along and the sides were equal right up until the 48th minute, before Cork’s experience at this grade allowed them to pull away.
Conor Keane had done well to keep the Kingdom in it right up until the end, contributing 1-7 to the cause, but Cork centre back Seán White scored his second point of the night, before Brian O’Driscoll and Conor Horgan added further points to allow Cork to edge out winners.
Kerry gave as good as they got for the majority of the game, and given that six members of last night’s side were part of the Kerry team that defeated Donegal in the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship final last September, there are a lot of positives to be taken from this defeat.
The Kingdom may not have won a Munster under-21 title since 2008, when Tommy Walsh and Killian Young were playing, but with full-back Gavin Crowley the only surviving member of last year’s Kerry side, this is a young Kerry team and they will come back stronger next year.
Cork will still have a number of players on the age again next year, but expect this Kerry side to roar back and end Cork’s quest for six-in-a-row next year.
Tipperary only lost by four points to a Cork side featuring players such as Alan Cadogan and Dan McEoin in last year’s decider, but they will have to improve considerably if they are to avoid a third straight final defeat to Cork since 2013.
The Premier county faced a Clare side which had beaten Waterford in last week’s quarter-final and, in truth, they just about did enough to win the game and didn’t get into top gear.
Last year’s All-Star nominee Colin O’Riordan opened the scoring within the first 30 seconds and from then on, Tipperary bossed the game without much hassle, with Jamie Malone the only Clare player to score from play in the game.
Jason Lonergan had a fine game with five points from play and Tipperary will be hoping for more of the same when they take on Cork in the Munster final in a few weeks time.
In reality, Cork will probably be too strong once again for Tipperary, but at worst, it appears that Tipperary’s good run in last year’s All-Ireland Senior Football Championship was no fluke, and the future looks promising for Tipperary football.
Limerick, for their part, put in an impressive display against Cork, and limited the Munster champions to only 13 scores. Goals win games though and Cork managed to put five goals past James O’Mara, but Limerick will know that they could have avoided conceding some of these.
Limerick did manage to stay with Cork and played some good football, and after impressive displays by Cillian Fahy and Cian Sheehan, both of whom are underage again next year, Limerick will know that they are not far behind the other sides in Munster.
Expect a number of these players to feature for Declan Brouder’s side when Limerick take on Clare in their Munster Senior Football Championship quarter-final this summer.
Eoghan Lordan, Pundit Arena