Under 20s need to get off to a positive start on Saturday
MUNSTER UNDER 20 FC QUARTER-FINAL Cork v Tipperary Saturday, June 16 Páirc Uí Rinn, 7.30pm
THIS Saturday night Páirc Uí Rinn will play host to Cork’s quarter final in the Munster Under 20 Football Championship where the young men in red and white will take on Tipperary with the winner securing their place in the last four – facing off with Clare.
Cork made it to the final of this competition last year when it was still Under 21, but a heavy loss to Kerry in the final provincial game put paid to their chances of progression.
This time round it is the ever improving Premier County that will look to stop the rebels in a way that the county’s seniors failed to do in the a few weeks back.
Cork have had a very credible record at this grade since the competition came into being back in 1966 with 26 titles secured, however, Kerry are again the powerhouses at this level and Cork will need to show serious improvement on last year if they are to secure the crown – that said, the small matter of Tipperary is first up and the Premier boys won’t be making the trip to Leeside without a plan in place to upset the home side’s night.
This competition really does fly under the radar with some of the top players at this age group either busy with exams or already heading for senior inter-county football. All that said, this competition offers young players the chance to impress the powers that be into giving them a chance at senior representative football.
At this stage of the year it is unlikely that a player will make the jump up this season as the senior setup is pretty settled now but that should not deter players from making a mark in the county colours with an eye on 2019.
Cork’s game with Tipperary this weekend will be a tough proposition but things won’t get easier for the rebels if they win as Clare await six days later with the likelihood of Kerry the following week in the provincial showpiece game less than two weeks away.
There is little point looking past Munster at this point, but a glimpse outside reveals another Dublin side that are favourites to dominate and potentially take the spoils.
Tipperary come into this game with plenty to smile about as the county has seen substantial improvements in results in recent times but this season will see a host of new players looking to take their chance to continue the progress and perhaps even bring some silverware to this ever improving county.
Cork’s manager, and selector with the senior squad, Seán Hayes, will look to guide his side through the early rounds and set up the expected clash with the Kingdom however the Nemo man will be desperate to instil a one game at a time policy in all his players as to look past Tipperary may well be fatal come game time.
The loss of Mark White to senior status is a blow for the Under 20s, but that is something that has to be accepted and encouraged as all underage grades are ultimately there to assist the senior side.
Cork may be about to head into their first, of hopefully many championship games this season, but they have already engaged in a host of warm-up games in recent times and look to be in good shape and high spirits heading into what may well be a very busy and exciting spell for this side.
With the senior footballers, as well as the hurlers, remaining in competitive action for the foreseeable future the Under 20 competition will likely struggle to get serious interest through the doors, but the lack of punters at the turnstiles should in no way take from the importance of this feeder competition to the overall ambitions of the senior county side.