All-Ireland U20 Football Championship Semi-Final: Offaly 3-10, Cork 0-14
Offaly sharpshooter Jack Bryant fired 2-4 in Portlaoise last night as Offaly stayed on the gravy train and advanced to the All Ireland U20 football final.
A second quarter purple patch gave the Offaly men a seven point half time cushion but Cork had it back to a one score game before a second Bryant goal in injury time made it safe for Declan Kelly’s men.
In an outstanding game of football, Offaly were the better team throughout and the raucous Offaly crowd shone a light on how supporters have been truly missed from GAA games throughout the Country.
Dara Dorgan and Morgan Tynan exchanged early frees at the start of an explosive first half. The tempo and tacking were off the charts but scores were at a premium in the opening quarter.
A fisted Cormac Egan point gave Offal y a slender 0-3 to 0-2 lead at the first half water break but the men from the Faithful County exploded into life for the remainder of the half.
Tom Hyland and Jack Bryant both spurned glorious goal chances for Offaly but Bryant responded in style kicking 1-2 in the space of four minutes with his goal, off his weaker left foot on 26 minutes putting them 1-5 to 0-2 ahead.
The Offaly crowd grossly outnumbered their Cork counterparts and with a huge vocal support behind them, Offaly kicked on with points from Lee Pearson and another from sharpshooter Bryant pulling them 1-7 to 0-2 clear with 30 minutes on the clock.
Cork pulled one back through Michael O’Neill but Offal went in with a convincing seven point half time lead.
Offaly got the opening two scores of the second half but after that, Cork had their purple patch and kicked over the next five scores to bring it back to 1-9 to 0-8 as the water break approached.
However Offaly had the final say before the break with that man Bryant setting up Cathal Flynn and the Ferbane man coolly slotted to the net to make it 2-9 to 0-8 with 15 minutes to play.
Cork roared back to life and with David Buckley and Ciaran O’Sullivan to the fore, they outscored Offaly 0-6 to 0-1 in the next 14 minutes.
At 2-10 to 0-14 coming into injury time, the game was still in the melting pit but the Offaly men defended resolutely and man of the match Jack Bryant fired home his second goal to seal the deal.
CORK: G Creedon; C O’Donovan, T Walsh, C McGoldrick; D Cashman, D Phelan, A Walsh Murphy; N Hartnett, B Hayes 0-2 (‘45’s); C O’Sullivan 0-3, J Cahalane, D Buckley 0-5 (0-4f and 0-1m); D Dorgan 0-1f, C Walsh 0-2, M O’Neill 0-1f. Subs: S McDonnell for D Dorgan (30), S O’Sullivan for M O’Neill ((35m), D Holland for A Walsh Murphy (40), E Nash for N Hartnett (46), J Kelleher for C Walsh (53)
OFFALY: S O’Toole, A Brazil, T Hyland, L Pearson 0-1; R Egan, J Furlong, F Dempsey; M Tynan 0-1f, E Cullen; C Flynn 1-0, O Keenan-Martin, C Donoghue; C Egan 0-1, J Bryant 2-4 (0-2f), A Kelleghan 0-2 (0-1m). Subs: K O’Neill for A Kellaghan temp (6-7m), K O’Neill 0-1 for M Tynan (46), C Delaney for A Kellaghan (52).
Referee: Liam Devenney (Mayo)