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How agony shaped the ecstasy of Cork's minor success | Bobbie O'Dwyer


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The enthralling curtain-raiser to Dublin and Kerry's drawn All-Ireland final, Bobbie O'Dwyer explained how the harsh lessons of 2018 provided Cork with a template to overcome Galway and guarantee minor success one year later. 

Nineteen-years after last winning the Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor football championship, a revamp of the Munster championship no longer required Cork to definitively halt the Kerry juggernaut if they were to have a say in the All-Ireland series.

Twice defeated by the six-in-a-row chasing Kerry before they'd ever left the province, Cork nevertheless gave Monaghan and Mayo little chance as they made their way into this year's All-Ireland final.

Galway, who had themselves edged out Kerry by a single point in the semi-final, were their unlikely opponents in the decider. A thrilling opportunity for both counties, when a Niall Cunningham goal put Galway in a position of superiority in the depths of additional time, Bobbie O'Dwyer was calmer than most.

"Of course you're disappointed when it happens," he explained on Thursday's OTB AM, "and you're looking up at the screen checking the time.

"I saw how long was gone, and it was all about getting the ball back out. I genuinely didn't think the game was gone though."

Cork

The year before, it had been Cork who were in Galway's position.

Against Peter Keane's Kerry side, it was O'Dwyer's team that had seemingly manoeuvred a decisive goal in the dying moments of a Munster clash.

"One of the big learnings for us," he explained, "[was] that game in Tralee last year where we were a goal down against Kerry going into additional time.

"We scored a goal and were so excited about getting back to level terms.

"Our boys were out about the field jumping up and down with excitement and Kerry, using that little bit of experience, came back up the field and knocked the ball over the bar and won that game by a point."

The agony of that late defeat and the manner in which Cork's momentary lapse had enabled it stuck with O'Dwyer throughout 2019.

"It was something that our lads had practised quite a lot on," he revealed.

"A lot of work had gone into just making sure that in a situation like that you were composed under pressure, and that little bit of experience we got last year stood to us."

Indeed, moments after Cunningham's goal appeared to put Galway in the driving seat, Conor Corbett grabbed a goal to drag Cork back into proceedings.

Throughout the allotted extra-time, Bobbie O'Dwyer's young team pushed ahead and gave Cork footballer greater cause for hope.

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