Saturday's EirGrid U-20 Football Championship round-up
EirGrid Connacht U-20 Football Championship
GALWAY 1-11 MAYO 0-14 (Galway win penalty shoot-out 3-2)
EirGrid Leinster U-20 Football Championship
DUBLIN 1-17 WICKLOW 1-7
OFFALY 2-6 LOUTH 0-9
EirGrid Ulster U-20 Football Championship
DERRY 1-13 FERMANAGH 1-8
Much like Storm Ciara, the Eirgrid U-20 football championships hit landfall in Ireland this afternoon, with the biggest impact out on the Western seaboard.
A heavyweight clash between Galway and Mayo was top of the bill across the three provinces that saw action, and while inclement weather made for tough going at Elverys MacHale Park, there was no shortage of drama at the Castlebar venue, with Galway eventually prevailing after a penalty shootout.
As Connacht minor champions in 2017 and 2018, not to mention All-Ireland finalists each of the last two seasons, the Tribesmen travelled up the N84 with no shortage of expectation on their shoulders. They immediately had to settle in for a tough 30 minutes however as they had to play into the gale, and would have been delighted to get through the first quarter just two points adrift, 0-3 to 0-1.
Frank Irwin and Nathan Grainger traded scores before Paul Towey tacked on two for Mayo, the start of a nine-point haul for the hugely impressive wing forward.
0-8 to 0-2 wasn’t a massive lead for Mayo in the circumstances, but it was almost enough. Tony Gill drove Galway on with an inspirational display from centre back but it was still the second minute of stoppage time before Cathal Sweeney’s point made it 0-10 each and send the game into overtime.
Matthew Tierney, with his heroic role in Oughterard’s All-Ireland intermediate club championship still fresh in the memory, seemed to settle the game in Galway’s favour with a goal in extra time but Towey came up with two more magnificent scores to send the game to a shootout, the game tied at 1-11 to 0-14.
Tierney, Gill and Ryan Monaghan all hit the target for Galway and while goalkeeper MacDara Geraghty missed his kick, he more than redeemed himself when he saved Oisín Mullin’s effort to confirm a 3-2 win for Galway.
A sensational finish in Castlebar and an explosive start in Aughrim, where Tinahely’s Eoin Darcy picked the pocket of a Dublin defender and toe-poked the ball into the corner of the net for a Wicklow goal in the first minute, only for the Dubs to win the subsequent kickout and reply in kind through wing back Adam Fearon.
Wicklow had the breeze and the memory of their famous minor victory over Dublin in 2018 to drive them on in the first half and they certainly played some good football in front of a lively crowd, but Luke Swan and Ciarán Archer got some great scores for Dublin and they led 1-8 to 1-5 at the break, helped in no small part by a Johnny Keogh shot for Wicklow that hit the post.
Matthew Ging got a good early score for Wicklow after half time but Dublin moved through the gears to win by 1-17 to 1-7, with Swan leading the way after Archer received a black card. Dublin will now play Longford in Parnell Park next Saturday in the quarter-final round.
The day’s other action in the east was in Dunleer, where Offaly edged out Louth by 2-6 to 0-9 to set up a local derby tie against Kildare.
The Faithful men will be particularly happy with their first half against the wind, Seán Courtney’s goal meaning they only trailed by two points, 0-6 to 1-1 at the break. Carl Gillespie’s fifth point (out of a total of six) for the Wee County extended their lead in the first minute of the second half but a second goal for Courtney, a very clever flick of the ball to deceive the keeper, seemed to set Offaly up for victory.
They made hard work of it however, and it took two late scores from Aaron Kelleghan to settle the win. Kelleghan was also instrumental for St. Joseph’s of Rochfortbridge in their Leinster Post Primary Schools “A” quarter-final win over Louth Schools during the week, scoring 1-5 on that occasion, making it a week to remember from his perspective against Louth opposition.
The final action of the day was in Celtic Park, where Derry and Fermanagh met in the preliminary round clash in Ulster. Seán Cassidy’s goal put the away side 1-5 to 0-3 up at the break and it was a tough slog for Derry to retrieve the deficit in the second half.
Jude McAtamney’s dead ball accuracy in difficult conditions cut the gap to two points and it fell to Eunan Mulholland and Alex Doherty to raise white flags in the closing ten minutes and leave the final score 1-6 to 0-9.
Callum Jones and Micheál Glynn put Fermanagh two up at the start of extra time but Derry quickly took control of the tie and finished the game with 1-4 unanswered to win by 1-13 to 1-8, Doherty striking the goal that sealed their place in the last eight, where they’ll meet Antrim.