THE GAELIC GROUNDS has not been a happy hunting ground for a bunch of Cork underage hurlers.
2015 saw them lose out by three points in a Munster minor semi-final to a Limerick team that they had defeated by 10 points a few months previously.
Last summer brought a two-point loss in a Munster U21 decider to another Limerick outfit.
And then last night a slender injury-time advantage morphed into a two-point loss to Tipperary with an All-Ireland U21 trophy up for grabs.
Three nights of underage hurling frustration with several players common to a couple of the sides, while seven hurled last night and lost out for a third occasion in four seasons.
Falling adrift on the scoreboard in injury-time when Tipperary bagged a late tally of 1-1 made it tougher for Cork boss Denis Ring and his players to bear.
“We were behind a number of times and responded very well to come back into the game. A late goal like that, it is a sucker-punch. It is desperately disappointing.
“Tipperary, to be fair, kept going and going. Every time they came up the field, they were a threat. We had our chances. We got ahead and we, maybe, could have pushed on from there.”
Conor Cahalane scores a brilliant goal for Cork after an incredible run. pic.twitter.com/JrYB2I3MWZ
— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 26, 2018
The upturn in Tipperary’s fortunes since the Munster decider did not surprise Ring.
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“Tipperary came into the Munster final off the back of a win over a fantastic Limerick team. Maybe, they weren’t necessarily in the best place. We played very well that night, but I did identify that they were below par and they were a lot better than they showed that night.
“They proved they are a lot better than that. They beat a very good Galway team. Tipperary’s work-rate was phenomenal. They were faster to the break for a lot of the game.
“Early on, a lot of ball went up to our forward line and didn’t stick. They were fast onto the break, they were hungrier on the breaks. Balls went into our forward line in the first-half where we thought we could cause a but of trouble and create a bit of danger, but we didn’t, unfortunately.”
Cork’s Declan Dalton is halted by the Tipperary defence.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Cork’s wait for underage glory stretches on, this U21 reversal hot on the heels of a minor decider loss last September. The national success was not delivered but Ring is hopeful these players can develop further at senior level.
“Being part of an All-Ireland is a great experience. Obviously, you want to win and it is hugely disappointing for all of us. There is no sugarcoating that.
“At the same time, they are gaining valuable experience every day they are going out. They are improving and developing as players. Some guys today, in particular, stood up to the plate, maybe, lesser-known names. That, hopefully, will reap rewards going forward when they move up to senior level.”
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