Tyrone prove too hot for Kerry as they claim sixth All-Ireland under-20 football crown

Eoin McElholm, Ruairí McCullagh and Ronan Cassidy share haul of 17 points

All-Ireland Under-20 football final: Tyrone 1-20 Kerry 1-14

Tyrone claimed a second Eirgrid All-Ireland under-20 football title in three years with a devastating attacking performance against Kerry at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise on Sunday.

It was a sixth title in all at this level for the Red Hands, who attacked in waves on their way to a stylish and clinical triumph over the Kingdom.

The Ulster champions approached this title decider in the most positive manner possible, determined to operate on the front foot and take the game to their opponents.

Flair and creativity showcased a triumphant day for Tyrone, who had the finishers to make it all happen in Eoin McElholm, Ruairí McCullagh and Ronan Cassidy, the terrific trio sharing a haul of 17 points.


All but two of Tyrone’s scores came from play on an afternoon when their attacking mentality was a joy to witness, not just from the offensive unit, but from a confident collective.

Tyrone conceded the Kerry kick-out in the first half, allowing their opponents to build from deep and pick off scores through Cormac Dillon, Daniel Kirby and Eddie Healy, who shot them ahead in the 11th minute.

But McElholm and Cassidy had already displayed their finishing skills, and Tyrone’s collective attacking power fashioned a 14th-minute goal, finished to the net via a deflection by corner back Joey Clarke, with Cassidy supplying the killer pass at the crucial moment.

Playmaker Odhrán Ferris, with his darting runs, and the surges of midfielder Rob Stack, helped keep the Kingdom in touch, and their ace finisher Cormac Dillon had three points on the board by the 20th minute to keep his side within two points.

But Tyrone hit four of the last six points of the first half, two of them from McCullagh, with Cormac Devlin finishing a flowing move as they took a 1-8 to 0-7 advantage into the interval.

Dillon, with a couple of frees, and substitute Ryan Diggin were on target for a Kerry side powered by the strong running and support play of Charlie Keating, and they were still very much in touch midway through the second half, as they cancelled out Tyrone scores from McCullagh, Odhán Brolly and McElholm.

But the Red Hands hit another purple patch at the beginning of the final quarter, reeling off five on the spin to go eight clear.

They had to withstand a renewed Kerry onslaught, but superb defending from Clarke, Ben Hughes and sweeper Callum Daly frustrated the Munster champions until they were awarded a penalty, smashed to the net by Luke Crowley.

Crowley added a point to narrow it down to three, but Tyrone were still full of running and brimming with energy as they saw out the game with another volley of scores, the brilliant McElholm bringing his tally to seven from play.

TYRONE: C McAneney; J Clarke (1-0), B Hughes, Conor Devlin; S O’Hare, M Rafferty, O Brolly (0-1); R Fox, C O’Neill; Cormac Devlin (0-1), E McElholm (0-7), G Potter; R McCullagh (0-5, 0-1f), R Cassidy (0-5, 0-1f), C Daly.

Subs: F Nelis for Conor Devlin (38 mins); C Donnelly for Brolly (44); N Grimes for Potter (53); C Owens (0-1) for McCullagh (58); R Donnelly for Cassidy (61).

KERRY: M Tansley; M Lynch, D O’Callaghan, G Evans; C Keating, D O’Connor, C Lynch; R Stack, E Healy (0-2); D Kirby (0-1), O Ferris, T Kennedy; C Dillon (0-8, 0-3f, 0-1m), A Crowley, L Crowley (1-1, 1-0 pen).

Subs: R Diggin (0-1) for O’Callaghan (29 mins); P Lane for A Crowley (h-t); F Murphy for Kirby (45); E Boyle (0-1) for Stack (46); A Segal for Evans (48).

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).