INTERVIEW | Josh Cullen
Inside Matchday v Galway United l 27 May 2023
Round 1 of the EirGrid U20 Football Championship
March 21st, 2023
Tonight the 2023 EirGrid Leinster GAA U20 Football Championship got underway.
On a wet and windy night there was 5 games down for decision, with action in all Three Groups.
Longford v Meath
In group 1 Longford welcomed the visit of Meath to Allen Park. It was the visitors who had the best of the opening exchanges leading 0-08 to 0-02 at the break thanks in no small part to a 4 point hall from the accurate Eoghan Frayne. The second half played out in a similar fashion with the wind playing a major role. Despite the heavy pressure a Meath goal never came however, Ruair Kinsella came close when his rasping shot just blazed over in the 38th minute. In the end it was comfortable for the 2021 Minor Champions who ran out victors on a final score of 0-12 to 0-04.
Carlow v Laois
The other fixture in Group 1 saw neighbours Carlow and Laois lock horns in Netwatch Cullen Park. In contrast to its corresponding fixture this was a much tighter affair. With first half goals for both sides there was very little in it at the break. Davy Costello scoring a penalty for the visitors while Eoghan Byrne did the dutiful for Carlow. After the interval Laois began to slowly assert their dominance with Colin Dunne and Shaun Fitzpatrick kicking some fine scores. Given the conditions the standard on show was excellent and the final score of 1-12 to 1-10 is reflective of the same.
Wicklow vs Dublin
On scores alone this Group to tie was the pick of the nights games with a combined 4 goals and 20 points divided between the sides. Despite playing against the wind it was Dublin who had the better of the opening half, thanks in no small part to a Dan OLeary goal before the 15 minute mark. This was added to with some fine points by Tom Brennan and Joe Quigley to leave it 1-06 to 0-04 at half time.
The second half was where the real action began. Dublin looked sure to have a second goal only for an excellent save from Wicklow net minder Jack Sargent. This seemed to give the home side the boost they needed and when Sean Doyle converted from the penalty spot they were right back in the game. James Boland bagged their second not long after pouncing on some uncertainty in the Dublin defense. Despite OLeary and Luke Breathnach notching another few points for the visitors it was Wicklow who fired the next major, this time off the boot of Jack Kirwan. However, this proved too little to late and Dublin held on to win 1-14 to 3-06.
Louth vs Offaly
In a wet and windy Stabannon Parnells 2021 Champions Offaly got their campaign underway. In a cagey opening half it was very much the weather that played the dominant factor with only 5 scores in total. All 3 of the Faithful sides scores came courtesy of Hary Plunkett frees while Liam Flynn and Harry Butterly did the dutiful for Louth.
The second half saw a dramatic improvement in all regards. The home side got to grips with conditions better and looked to be coasting to well deserved win when 0-09 to 0-03 up with 12 minutes remaining. This was thanks in no small part to excellent performances from Kieran McArdle and Sean Reynolds. Then on the 55th minute Alex Egan fired home from the penalty spot to give the visitors some hope. Just when it looked like the game was petering out a goal mouth scramble saw John Furlong find the net and grasp a draw for Offaly. It finished 2-04 to 0-10.
Kildare v Westmeath
In Group 3 there was only the solitary fixture as Wexford receive a bye and could comfortably wait on the result. Kildare welcomed the visit of Westmeath, in a tight opening half both sides shared some good spells with the home side going into the break 2 points up 0-05 to 0-03. The second half proved the old saying true that goals make the difference and it was the visitors who found two of them. The first from Bran Cooney who punched a Senan Baker free to the back of the net. This saw the Lakeside men complete a turn around of 4 points since the interval and they now led 1-05 to 0-06. From here it would be very much score for score with both sides adding a further 3 points to their tally before Matthew Whittaker fired home a cracking effort. This proved the difference and they held on to win by 6 points in the end.
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