NY GAA: Senior Football final preview: Down v Cork
Wasn't it Emily Dickenson or James Joyce that said, “Summer turns to fall and young men dream of romance, love” … and winning the New York county title!
Another year over and we are Down to two. Who will un-Cork (pardon the puns) the champagne this Sunday in the 125th anniversary year of the GAA in Ireland and the 95th year of football in the Big Apple?
Eighteen clubs have won the title in New York’s history, but Cork have not been at the top table since 1955 when they annexed their fourth, (‘16, ‘18 and ‘35 were the others), while Down have yet to take home the championship.
Down are returning to the final for the second year in a row while Cork have not got to this point since 1972. Kerry presently holds the cup, with both of Sundays contestants more than capable of following in their footsteps.
After a full season of football that included a KO 13 a side competition to open the year before 41 group games and playoffs, we are down to two. Both sides had interesting years to get to this point, with almost identical records of seven wins and two losses, while Cork have a draw from their contest with Tyrone in the semifinal.
Cork started strong before they hit a road bump that included three losses in 14 days in July to Tyrone, Leitrim and a resounding loss to this week’s opponent. They got back on track afterwards in the one game they played in August, a win over Four Provinces, and then had little trouble over nemesis Kerry in the last group game and the quarterfinal.
Their two outings with Tyrone were night and day. Lucky to steal a draw in the first, they had a resounding victory last Sunday.
Down also started tout with three wins before a pair of losses to Tyrone, a close contest, and Leitrim set them back. They recovered with a 1-21 to 1-9 win over Cork, the most complete game any of the six playoff teams had against the other playoff teams in the group games. A clinical win.
Back on track and after a win over Cavan, they had an inexplicable let down against Kerry in the last group game. They survived, however, and again beat Cavan in the quarterfinal, a game that was far closer than they would have liked before they saw off Leitrim relatively easily in the semifinal.
It all leads us to Sunday and two sides that are coming off brilliant semifinal showings after coming in as the three and four seeds in the playoffs.
Looking at the two sides, they both have very valid reasons for feeling confident. Down are returning to the final after a one-point loss to Kerry last season. A game that they well could have won, it will help them immensely this week.
Mark Kelly is the long time custodian for the side, and his overall play and uncanny ability to save penalties gives his side a lot of confidence. The full back line should have Brian Murray at two, with Dermot Hayes, Gary Cornyn and Richard Dalton also possible in the first line.
Cornyn is playing very well and could go at wing -back or in the corner. A tenacious marker, this is his third final on the trot. (Leitrim in ‘07).
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